Monday, May 9, 2016

Russia’s Gloomy Prospects by Anders Åslund and Simon Commander

Russia’s Gloomy Prospects by Anders Åslund and Simon Commander


Russian Company Reveals ‘Little Obama’ Ice Cream Flavor

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A Russian company released its newest ice cream flavor called “Little Obama” as relations between D.C. and the Kremlin continue to chill.
The chocolate-covered ice cream bar is packaged in a blue wrapper illustrated with a cartoon picture of a smiling young black boy who dons a gold hoop earring. “Obamka,” the bar’s Russian name, is written in bold across the wrapper.
The company that created the bar, Slavitsa, said in a statement provided to Reuters that the product was targeted toward children in a series featuring “cheerful” characters representing “the main races of people in our planet.”
“Ice cream names need to be memorable,” the company wrote. “For those with a rich imagination, various associations might arise, but this product is for children and is a long way from politics.”
Russian government-funded media outlet RT reported that the “ka” suffix most typically expresses “affection,” but can also be applied as a form of “scorn.”
American government officials did not find the new product amusing.
“While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent,” a U.S. official told Reuters Friday.



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EU Calls for Fairer Economic Relationship With China

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The European Union's ambassador to China says the group wants a more level playing field in its trade and economic relations with Beijing. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut told reporters Monday that European companies had been willing in past decades to put up with restrictions on business in China, but the EU now wants a relationship that is much more based on “fair exchange.” He said questions about the relationship have become more urgent, including why it is possible for Chinese institutions to buy European banks but impossible for European banks to buy Chinese ones. Schweisgut also said that China must urgently address overcapacity in certain industries and the “market distortions” it is causing. European steelmakers accuse China of exporting steel at unfairly low prices.

Министр обороны России генерал-армии Сергей Шойгу принял участие в возложении цветов к Вечному огню у памятника Неизвестному солдату

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В памятном мероприятии также приняли участие первые лица России и Казахстана, правительственные делегации двух стран и ветераны Великой Отечественной войны.

London mayoral election: How did Sadiq Khan win?

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Russian Opposition Activist Forcibly Placed In Psychiatric Clinic 

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A Russian opposition activist has been forcibly admitted to a psychiatric clinic in the southwestern city of Voronezh.
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Seven goats escape from Kentucky parade, sparking 24-hour chase 

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Invictus Games 2016: Prince Harry and Michelle Obama officially open Orlando games, in pictures

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Man ‘shoots and kills’ brother in row over cheeseburger

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Panama Papers: Offshore Accounts, Tax Havens

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The scandal caused by the largest leak ever of data about secret offshore companies enters a new phase Monday when a journalists group releases to the public a searchable database of documents that reveals the details of more than 200,000 offshore entities and the people connected to those accounts. The Panama Papers, as they have been called, are 11.5 million documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The nearly 40 years' worth of documents show how the firm helped some wealthy people set up offshore firms, often used to hide assets and avoid taxes and sanctions. What does offshore mean? To register or operate outside a person's or company's national boundary. The arrangement is often done for the purpose of financial, legal and taxation benefits. What is an offshore company? A company incorporated for the purpose of operating outside the country of its registration. Also known as a shell company. Individuals or companies often use shell companies to disguise ownership or other information about source of funds for the company involved. Legitimate uses of offshore accounts: The idea of a tax haven -- a country that offers low taxes and high privacy -- is not illegal. A company or trust may legitimately move offshore for the purpose of lower taxation, as well as for legitimate uses such as business finance, mergers and acquisitions, and estate or tax planning. Illicit uses: However, it is illegal for a person or company to fail to report income from accounts in foreign countries if the taxpayer's national taxing authority requires them to do so, or if an offshore financial institution is used to conceal sources of funds or ownership, or for money-laundering and tax evasion purposes. Tax avoidance vs. tax evasion: Tax avoidance allows a person or business to lower the amount of income tax owed by legal means by claiming permissible deductions and credits. Tax evasion is illegal because it allows a person or business to intentionally avoid paying taxes. Tax Haven Sites Mossack Fonseca is considered one of the world's largest providers of offshore services. Of the companies appearing in the firm's files, one of every two were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, making it the firm's No. 1 tax haven site. The top 10 countries used by Mossack Fonseca: British Virgin Islands, 113,648 incorporated companies Panama, 48,360 The Bahamas, 15,915 Seychelles, 15,182 Niue, 9,611 Samoa, 5,307 British Anguilla, 3,253 Nevada, U.S., 1,260 Hong Kong, 452 The United Kingdom, 148 Sources: AP, Financial Action Task Force, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

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Russia showcases Syria hardware in Red Square military parade - Reuters

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Reuters

Russia showcases Syria hardware in Red Square military parade
Reuters
MOSCOW Russia rolled out an air defense missile system of the kind used to protect its base in Syria and some of the Russian jets flying missions there screamed overhead as it showcased its military war machine on Moscow's Red Square on Monday.
Russia displays military might with Victory Day parade on Red SquareTelegraph.co.uk 
Russian WW2 Victory Day parade showcases new weaponsBBC News

Russia Victory Day Parade: World War II Commemoration Showcases Newest Military TechnologyInternational Business Times 
euronews-The Moscow Times (registration)
all 70 news articles »

The Daily Vertical: Remembering 1941-45, Forgetting 1939-41

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The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.

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Russia Parades New Weapons in Syria on Victory Day - The Moscow Times (registration)

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The Moscow Times (registration)

Russia Parades New Weapons in Syria on Victory Day
The Moscow Times (registration)
A smaller version of Moscow's massive Victory Day parade, held on Red Square, took place onRussia's Khmeimim air base in Latakia, Syria, state news agency RIA Novosti reported Monday. The parades were held to mark the 71st anniversary of the Soviet ...

Верховный Главнокомандующий Вооруженными Силами России Владимир Путин и Министр обороны генерал армии Сергей Шойгу поблагодарили военнослужащих, участвовавших в военном параде на Красной площади

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Положительные отзывы руководства страны, а также ветеранов Великой Отечественной войны стали главной оценкой прошедшего в Москве торжественного мероприятия.

Moscow Not West Keeping Circassian Issue Very Much Alive

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 9 – Many in both Russia and the West assumed that the Circassian issue, one that involves recognition of the 1864 genocide and the restoration of the rights of the Circassian people in their North Caucasus homeland, would fade after the end of the Sochi Olympiad, an event Circassians around the world used to highlight their plight.

            But while news coverage of the Circassians has certainly slipped in many places, their issues have not gone away -- and not because of some Western conspiracy against Russia as some pro-Kremlin writers think but rather because of Moscow’s continuing oppression of Circassians in their North Caucasus homeland.

            These issues are not going to disappear not only for the more than a half million people in the North Caucasus and more than five million in the diaspora but also for all those who care about justice.  And as a result of Moscow’s clumsy and repressive policies, they are likely to become even more prominent in the coming months.

            That of course is not how most Russian commentators see it. Instead, they use the standard Soviet-style methods of blaming the victims of Moscow’s policies or presenting anything they don’t like as being the result of a Western conspiracy against Russia in which this or that group is encouraged to recognize that it is only a pawn in the hands of others.

            A classical new example of this approach is an article by Yana Amelina of the Caucasus Geopolitical Club in “Russkaya planeta” entitled “The Galvanized Corpse of ‘the Circassian Question’” (rusplt.ru/views/views_158.html).

            She argues that “the events of the last few months show that someone is trying to give new life to the so-called ‘Circassian question’ which it appeared had finally been buried in the period of the preparation for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014” and that standing behind the Circassians who are asking it again are “foreign forces” in Britain and Turkey.

            The celebration for the sixth year in a row of the Day of the Circassian Flag in Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia with car processions, meetings and concerts, Amelina says, is simply the latest example of efforts by the special services of Britain, Turkey and their friends in Georgia to cause trouble for Russia.

            “Officially,” she continues, these events were intended to “’raise the interest of young people in their history.’”  But in fact they were designed to attract international attention and politicize an issue that shouldn’t be, the Russian commentator continues.  They had nothing to do with promoting national self-identification.

            According to Amelina, both Britain and Turkey “have brought the Circassians only misfortunes – Britain by pushing Circassian leaders into a hopeless struggle with the Russian Empire and Turkey by using them exclusively in their interests and in fact wiping out their national identity.” Unfortunately, she suggests, not all Circassians recognize this.

            She notes that a new Circassian organization, Circassian Politics, has arisen in the US and that its leaders, encouraged by Western money and special services, are increasingly making aggressive toward Russia.  “We do not intend to ask anyone for anything anymore,” one of its leaders declared. “We intend to struggle for our place in the sun by all lawful methods.”

            The group is interesting in that it seeks to promote Circassian refugee flows the resettlement of Circassians in the West now that Moscow has largely blocked the return of this community to its historical homeland, a pattern that Amelina suggests underscores the connection of “radical Circassian activists with foreign special services.”

            (For those who need what she considers the truth on this, Amelina suggests that they read the highly tendentious report prepared by the Russia Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI) in advance of the Sochi Olympics  entitled “’The Circassian Question’ and the Foreign Factor” (riss.ru/events/2031/) and widely used by pro-Kremlin commentators at the time.)

            In brief, Amelina blames the usual suspects – Western intelligence services – for re-animating the Circassian question. But in fact, Moscow’s actions against the Circassians are playing a much larger role. Among them in recent months are the following:

·         Fears in Adygeya that Moscow if it restarts its regional amalgamation campaign will do away with that Circassian “matryoshka” republic and the only one that bears the common name of all Circassians, whose self-designator is Adygey.

·         Anger that Moscow will now allow more Circassians from war-torn Syria to return to their ancestral lands in the North Caucasus and that the Russian government has overseen the worsening of economic conditions in Circassian lands.

·         A wave of arrests of Circassian activists who came from other countries, including Adnan Khade, against whom the Russian authorities have fabricated charges and about whom Circassians in the North Caucasus and the diaspora are now speaking out (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=10391 and cherkessia.net/news_detail.php?id=6948).

·         And most recently the refusal of authorities in Nalchik to open a criminal case against persons unknown who desecrated a statue there devoted to the memory of the victims of the Caucasus war, among whom the Circassians were the most prominent (nazaccent.ru/content/20583-policiya-nalchika-ne-budet-rassledovat-oskvernenie.html).

If Russian officials continue to act in this way, they and not any mythical hand of “Western special services” will ensure that “the Circassian question” is going to remain open and important for a long time to come.

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Victory Cult Intended to Keep Russian Federation’s Non-Russians within an Empire and Former Soviet Republics Together, Ukrainian Commentator Says

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 9 – Many Russian commentators have pointed out that the way in which Vladimir Putin is exploiting Victory Day is about the legitimation of the Soviet past, but a Ukrainian analyst says that the most important function of this day is to exploit victory over Germany as the only positive thing linking the former Soviet republics together.

            In Kyiv’s “Novoye vremya,” Andrey Trapliyenko, a military correspondent for Ukraine’s 1 + 1 TV channel, argues “the cult of ‘the Great Victory of the USSR’ is the only religion which unites the peoples of Russia in the format of an empire” and the only positive thing remaining linkin the former Soviet republics together (nv.ua/opinion/tsaplienko/kult-pobedy-poslednjaja-nadezhda-nedoimperii-118713.html).

            If it were not for the cult – and it is certainly the only one that has followers among both Russians and non-Russians within Russia and in the other post-Soviet states he says, “then between the countries of the former USSR would be little in common. More than that,” he says, the non-Russian regions would “also be deprived of an idea which holds them together.” 

            Thus, Trapliyenko argues, “the more serious the risks of the disintegration of the empire, the more pompous the parades and the more frightening the display of arms on the streets of cities” not only in Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine but within the borders of the Russian Federation and wherever Moscow can promote its version of reality.

            If the Ukrainian analyst is correct, then Putin’s use of Victory Day is a reflection not of his and Russia’s strength but precisely of its increasing weakness, a factor that should be taken into consideration by all who are trying to understand Russia today and where it and the post-Soviet space are heading.

Top Shots

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Some of the most compelling photographs from RFE/RL's broadcast region and beyond.

Saudi Arabia to invest in Russia's Chechnya – Kadyrov - RT

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RT

Saudi Arabia to invest in Russia's Chechnya – Kadyrov
RT
Kadyrov added that, according to Al-Khatib, Russian-Saudi relations are “at an all-time high” and that the kingdom is implementing projects worth $10 billion in Russia. A joint working group has been established and it will closely cooperate with the ...
Six Police Wounded In Militant Attack In Russia's ChechnyaRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

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Israel Approves Extradition to US of Two Securities Fraud Suspects 

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Israel has approved the extradition to the United States of two men indicted in New York on multiple counts of securities fraud that carry lengthy jail terms, Israel's Justice Ministry said. Gery Shalon, 32, and Ziv Orenstein, 41, were arrested at their homes in Israel last July after U.S. authorities accused them of engaging in a stock manipulation scheme between 2011 and 2015. Jerusalem District Court agreed on Sunday to an extradition request by New York Southern District Court. In a statement on Monday, Israel's Justice Ministry gave no date for the extradition of Shalon and Orenstein, but said the two men had consented to it. Lawyers for the two did not immediately return calls for comment. According to a U.S. indictment filed last year, Shalon, Orenstein and a third suspect, Joshua Samuel Aaron, had worked with two unnamed stock promoters, one from New Jersey and one from Florida, to run a "pump-and-dump" scheme. The defendants would acquire shares in thinly traded companies, send millions of spam emails inducing investors to buy the stocks in order to drive up the price, and then sell off their holdings. U.S. authorities last year said Aaron, a U.S. citizen with residences in Moscow and Tel Aviv, was at large. His circumstances were not immediately clear on Monday. According to Israel's Justice Ministry, an amended U.S. indictment in March added counts such as computer hacking and online gambling to the original charges filed against Shalon and Orenstein. Prosecutors in the United States contend that Shalon, Orenstein and Aaron ran a criminal enterprise that hacked into a dozen companies' networks, stealing the personal information of more than 100 million people. In the case of one of those companies, JPMorgan, prosecutors said records belonging to 83 million customers were stolen. At the time of Shalon's and Orenstein's arrest, Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied any link to the JPMorgan case, and it was not mentioned in the Justice Ministry statement.

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Russia’s Gloomy Prospects by Anders Åslund and Simon Commander

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MOSCOW – Russia’s economic prospects are looking increasingly grim. Last year, plunging energy prices and international sanctions contributed to a 3.7% fall in GDP. Real wages in the country plummeted by around 10%. This year, the negative trend is expected to continue. In 2016, public spending on education and health care is slated to decline by 8%.
The Kremlin’s desultory attempts at diversifying the Russian economy have largely failed. Labor productivity remains chronically low, and investment – foreign and domestic – has dried up. Sadly, a turnaround is unlikely. Under current conditions, neither higher energy prices nor the lifting of sanctions would likely be enough to reinvigorate the country’s moribund economy.
Over the past decade, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime has degraded the institutions that are essential to the functioning of a modern economy. The judicial system, for example, is largely in tatters. And above all, the ownership and governance of key assets and resources are almost all in state hands. Indeed, in 2012, the IMF calculated that the consolidated public sector accounted for nearly 70% of Russia’s GDP. Though comparably detailed estimates are not available for earlier years, in the early 2000s, this share was around 30-40%.
The expansion of the state’s control of the Russian economy has been driven by a proliferation of state-owned corporations, whose gross liabilities now amount to 150% of GDP. Firms in the energy, infrastructure, banking, and armaments sectors have been nationalized. In 2014, publicly owned or controlled entities accounted for nearly 70% of the turnover and 85% of employment among Russia’s top 15 companies. For the largest 100 companies, these shares were 54% and 68%, respectively. The consolidated public sector now accounts for one third of total employment.
Russia’s big state-owned corporations are, for the most part, controlled – with considerable lack of transparency – by management that has been appointed by Putin personally. Many major corporate decisions are made during one-on-one meetings between Putin and a company’s CEO. Many mergers and acquisitions require the president’s personal approval.
Lack of transparency is pervasive. Only a few state-owned companies file International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) accounts and many have large numbers of subsidiaries, which can dilute benefits to shareholders, while offering opportunities for managers and other connected parties to enrich themselves. Russian Railways, for example, has more than 23,000 subsidiaries. Gazprom has more than 4,300.
Lack of detailed information makes it difficult to document the state’s full asset portfolio, let alone set up a workable and transparent system of oversight. The agency charged with managing state property (Rosimushchestvo) is unable to act as an effective controlling shareholder.
Putin’s Russia is increasingly reminiscent of President Suharto’s Indonesia – an intricate system of crony capitalism without real property rights. Many close to Putin have acquired great fortunes through their connections to state companies. One route to enrichment is to privately appropriate the financial flows of state companies. Another is to leverage connections in order to secure no-bid contracts or to purchase state assets for a pittance.
The size of the crony economy is hinted at in the Panama Papers, but even those revelations are just the tip of the iceberg. In 2014, the net worth of those who are subject to sanctions by the US and EU was estimated at around $17 billion; one sanctioned bank alone holds assets valued at more than $11 billion.
This system comes at considerable costs to the Russian economy, favoring rent-seeking at the expense of productivity growth. Russia does possess some efficient, dynamic, large private companies, but the space for these firms is quickly receding.
Experience suggests that large public sectors are associated with sub-par growth and the crowding out of investment in the private sector. Indeed, with the expansion of the large state corporations, many of them in the hands of cronies, competition has drastically diminished in many sectors.
Despite all this, Putin’s commitment to the system that he has built is unwavering. Even proposed measures to raise fiscal revenues – such as the privatization of minority shares in seven state-owned corporations – will likely be done in a way that favors his cronies.
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Part of the reluctance to change is due the fact that Putin remains very popular – for now. As the economy continues to crumble that could shift very rapidly, as Putin seems to have acknowledged when – in apparent anticipation of trouble – he created a National Guard of 400,000 paramilitary security forces and put it under the command of his long-time bodyguard.
Given the regime’s dependence on the personalization of power, it would be hard to design any credible path for change that preserves the prerogatives of Putin and his cronies. Opening up the economy to competition and expanding the private sector would undermine the system of wealth and power that Putin’s associates enjoy. And that why Russia’s economic troubles are likely to continue.
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Russia's Gloomy Prospects - Project Syndicate

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Project Syndicate

Russia's Gloomy Prospects
Project Syndicate
MOSCOW – Russia's economic prospects are looking increasingly grim. Last year, plunging energy prices and international sanctions contributed to a 3.7% fall in GDP. Real wages in the country plummeted by around 10%. This year, the negative trend is ...

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Afghan Officials: Haqqani Network Controls Taliban Command

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Officials in Afghanistan say the State Department designated terrorist group, the al-Qaida linked Haqqani network, has effectively taken over battlefield command of the Taliban insurgency. Haqqani militants allegedly operate from sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan and are known for staging high-profile suicide assaults on Afghan and international forces. “The Taliban are currently being commanded by [the] Haqqani [network]. We believe Haqqani and al-Qaida are two different names for the same terrorist organization,” Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told reporters in Kabul. He said Afghan security forces military strategists are aware of the terrorist threat and dealing with all of them as a common enemy of Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan leaders have long alleged the Haqqani network has ties to Pakistani military-intelligence. The group has fought along side the Taliban in the 15-year Afghan conflict, but mostly operated independently, until last year when its fugitive chief Sirajuddin Haqqani was named deputy to Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. Officials at NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan last week also warned of the Haqqani network, describing it as “the most lethal” and “most competent" terrorist organization in the area. “Siraj Haqqani, has been named the number two for the Taliban. And we think that he is increasing really, his day-to-day role in terms of conducting Taliban military operations,” says U.S. Army Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, deputy chief of staff for communications for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. “And we think that he is trying to exert more influence really, on the leadership with some of these shadow governors in some of these other places [in Afghanistan],” Cleveland noted. But he underscored concerns about the Haqqanis branching out from their traditional area and then focus on high profile attacks like the one that killed nearly 70 people in Kabul last month. Tensions with Pakistan The Haqqani network’s growing role is likely to fuel Afghanistan’s tensions with Pakistan. Kabul has consistently pressed Islamabad to crackdown on the group, claiming it has evidence showing Haqqanis were behind the April 19 deadly bombing in the Afghan capital. Pakistani officials dismiss allegations the network is still operating from their territory. A senior foreign policy aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week urged Afghans to share the evidence, saying Islamabad’s probe into the violence has established it had nothing to do with it. Despite emerging new security challenges, Afghan officials claim their forces have inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgents since the Taliban launched its so-called spring offensive last month. Kabul’s ambassador to Islamabad, Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal, tells VOA the battlefield successes have boosted moral of Afghan forces, which have received far less casualties than the previous fighting season. “There were a lot of expectations within the Taliban and the supporters of the Taliban that their spring offensive would result in significant advancements for the Taliban and that there would be collapse of a few provinces by now,” Zakhilwal said. “The complete opposite happened. The Taliban received and are still receiving tremendous casualties. They did not make any advancement. They are struggling right now with respective their spring offensive and objectives.” Afghan officials say U.S air support has been sought in certain cases, but foreign troops are not involved in ground combat. Cleveland says about 75 percent of the Afghan Special Operation Forces missions are conducted independently, with no coalition assistance whatsoever. "Out of that remaining 25 percent, a percentage of that, we're not going into the field with them, we're just essentially helping them with the planning and intelligence and advising and those types of things," he said. Afghan forces Independent Western security experts like Ted Callahan, who is based in northern Afghanistan, also agree with Kabul’s assessment of the fighting. Callahan says support from international forces has played a key role in operations Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have conducted, particularly in northern provinces, including Kunduz, which the Taliban had briefly overrun in 2015. “I would say the mood of the local population is much more optimistic than we have seen for several months previously. But at the same time the question is how sustainable is this current model, because if you look it is really dependent on having international forces and their assets present,” said Callahan. Afghan forces have intensified counter-insurgency operations after the April 19 Kabul attack that officials blamed on the Haqqani network. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has dismissed as propaganda claims the insurgent group has suffered massive casualties and failed to achieve its objectives. “Our spring offensive is not a week long or a moth-long activity. It is a full one year operation and our mujahideen will prevail as they did last year,” Mujahid asserted. Analysts believe the intensifying Afghan conflict means further deterioration of the country's relations with Pakistan. A four-nation process, involving the United States, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to promote talks with the Taliban as well as Kabul's normal ties to Islamabad are now "practically hostage" to Afghan expectations of a direct Pakistani action against the Haqqani network, says an Afghan presidential aid, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity.

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В Чечне свыше пяти тысяч человек приняли участие в акции "Бессмертный полк" - РИА Новости

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РИА Новости

В Чечне свыше пяти тысяч человек приняли участие в акции "Бессмертный полк"
РИА Новости
ГРОЗНЫЙ, 9 мая — РИА Новости. Свыше пяти тысяч человек в понедельник приняли участие в акции "Бессмертный полк" в Грозном, сообщили в пресс-службе главы региона со ссылкой на региональное МВД. "Акция "Бессмертный полк" прошла сегодня в центре Грозного. Возглавил ...

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Who rules the world? America is no longer the obvious answer

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Challenged from all sides, the US is losing its tight grip on international power, Noam Chomskywrites, as world public opinion becomes a ‘second superpower’
When we ask “who rules the world?” we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading.
States, of course, have complex internal structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the “masters of mankind”,as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires and the like.
It is often argued that the enormous public opposition to the invasion of Iraq had no effect. That seems incorrect to me
As in the case of China, one does not have to regard Putin’s moves favorably to understand the logic behind them
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Russia Convenes to Celebrate Victory Day

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During the Victory Day celebration in Moscow, President Vladimir V. Putin told the Russian military that now is the time to be cautious, and that short-sightedness is not acceptable.

US, Russia work to hold fragile Syria cease-fire together - Washington Post

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Washington Post

US, Russia work to hold fragile Syria cease-fire together
Washington Post
PARIS — The United States and Russia worked Monday to hold together a revived truce in Syria, calling on both Syria's government and opposition groups to restrain themselves even as a five-day cease-fire in the northern city of Aleppo was set to expire.
US, Russia Urge Syria's Warring Parties to End Attacks on CiviliansSputnik International

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Parades, Flags and Stalin -- Victory Day In Former U.S.S.R.

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Parades were held, flags waved, and Stalin celebrated -- as the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II was marked across the former Soviet Union.

Parades, Flags and Stalin -- Victory Day In Former USSR

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From: rferlonline
Duration: 02:57

Parades were held, flags waved, and Stalin celebrated -- as the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two was marked across the former Soviet Union.
Originally published at - http://www.rferl.org/media/video/victory-day-former-ussr/27724483.html

Aleppo fighting rages as US and Russia try to revive Syria truce - Reuters

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Reuters

Aleppo fighting rages as US and Russia try to revive Syria truce
Reuters
The United States and Russia, who support rival sides in Syria's civil war, said on Monday they would work to revive a February "cessation of hostilities" agreement which reduced fighting in parts of the country for several weeks. But warplanes struck ...
Russia flexes its military might in SyriaCNN
Russia Says Cease-Fire in Syria's Aleppo Is ExtendedWall Street Journal
Syria's Civil War: Go Inside Russia's Base in LatakiaNBCNews.com
Voice of America -New York Times
all 1,362 news articles »

Incredible colorized photos show Russia before the Communist revolution - Business Insider

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Business Insider

Incredible colorized photos show Russia before the Communist revolution
Business Insider
The following photos, from the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection in the Library of Congress, offers an amazing glimpse into pre-Communist revolution Russia. The photos were taken throughout theRussian Empire between 1905 and 1915 and have been colorized ...

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Ivory Coast Tries Former First Lady for Crimes Against Humanity 

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While the trial of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo resumes at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, the trial of his wife Simone Gbagbo, who faces similar charges, opens in Ivory Coast. Simone Gbagbo's supporters gave her a warm welcome as she entered the criminal court that will judge her in Abidjan. The former first lady is being tried for crimes allegedly committed during the post-electoral crisis in 2010 and 2011, triggered after her husband, then president Laurent Gbagbo, and contestant Alassane Ouattara both claimed victory in presidential elections. The subsequent four months of violence left at least 3,000 people dead. She and her husband were eventually arrested and Ouattara became president. While Laurent Gbagbo is on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Simone Gbagbo is being tried in Ivory Coast because Ivorian authorities refused to transfer her, claiming the country's justice system is capable of judging her. Probably will be found guilty Defense attorney Rodrigue Dadjé says Mrs. Gbagbo prefers to be judged by an Ivorian court, because she is accused of committing crimes towards her own citizens, so she must explain herself in front of them. But he adds that justice in Ivory Coast is not independent, is under the influence of the government, and that there are strong chances she will be condemned even if there is no evidence. The defense argued in court Monday the composition of the jury is not fair and is biased against her. Simone Gbagbo, 66 years old, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year by a different court for undermining state security and organizing armed gangs. She has maintained her innocence. Hoping for justice Representing the state, prosecutor Soungalo Coulibaly says he is hoping justice will be served for the victims, who have suffered a lot. "Justice must be served in order to reconcile the population," he said. Arguments are due to start later this month. Simone Gbagbo could face life in prison if she is found guilty.

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Syrian refugee shot by border guards trying to enter Slovakia from Hungary 

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'It is outrageous that Slovak authorities are shooting at innocent people fleeing war'

Chaos in Brazil as Dilma Rousseff impeachment vote 'anulled'

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Russia's military in Syria: Bigger than you think and not going anywhere - CNN

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CNN

Russia's military in Syria: Bigger than you think and not going anywhere
CNN
(CNN) Last week the Russian military brought more than a hundred international journalists, including our CNN crew, to Palmyra. The trip was orchestrated to showcase Moscow's role in liberating the ancient heritage site but it also said a lot about the ...
Russian Concert in Syria? I Took a Bulletproof VestNew York Times
56 hours with the Russian army in SyriaWashington Post 
Taking a risky 72-hour ride inside the Russian military's information war
 CBC.ca


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День победы в Нью-Йорке 

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From: golosamerikius
Duration: 03:43

Американо-российские почести ветеранам
Originally published at - http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/media/video/victory-day-nyc/3321887.html

May 9, 2016

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A look at the best news photos from around the world.

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US and Russia renew commitment to Syrian ceasefire - The Hill

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The Hill

US and Russia renew commitment to Syrian ceasefire
The Hill
The U.S. and Russia are vowing to redouble their efforts to hold together a nationwide ceasefire between warring parties in Syria's civil war. "We have decided to reconfirm our commitment to the [ceasefire] in Syria and to intensify efforts to ensure ...
US, Russia Work to Hold Fragile Syria Cease-Fire TogetherABC News
Russia, US pledge to 'redouble efforts' to maintain Syria ceasefireRT
U.S., Russia Pledge to Maintain Syria Truce, Including in AleppoBloomberg
TASS
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Why China's Not Afraid of Donald J. Trump - POLITICO Magazine

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POLITICO Magazine

Why China's Not Afraid of Donald J. Trump
POLITICO Magazine
TAIPEI, Taiwan — After months of lamenting that “we are being ripped so badly by China” in trade and that it is “playing us like a fiddle” in dealing with North Korea, Donald Trump took his tough-on-China rhetoric to new extremes last week, declaring ...

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In Pakistan, militants raise alarm with their ‘Court of Sharia’

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Even as the army vows to crack down on Islamist militants it blames for devastating attacks at home, it turns a blind eye to some groups, such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, that support the military’s strategic aims outside Pakistan.
     

Veterans pledge to seek help rather than commit suicide

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This weekend, a coalition of nonprofits led a "Spartan Weekend" for hundreds of sick and injured veterans centered on a promise: They would not take their own life without reaching out to someone for help.
     

Don't let cybercriminals hide from the FBI - The Conversation US

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The Conversation US

Don't let cybercriminals hide from the FBI
The Conversation US
At the request of the FBI, the U.S. Supreme Court has proposed changing the rule to allow any magistrate judge in the country to approve an electronic search warrant under one of two conditions: either the targets are using technological tricks to ...

US|FBI Sting Is Expected to Yield More Arrests in Pennsylvania - New York Times

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New York Times

US|FBI Sting Is Expected to Yield More Arrests in Pennsylvania
New York Times
The F.B.I.'s approach to a campaign cash sting that implicated a onetime top aide to former Gov. Edward G. Rendell suggests that it is a prelude to more public corruption arrests, former federal prosecutors say. The sting that targeted the former aide ...
Pennsylvania FBI Sting: Prelude to More Corruption Arrests?ABC News
Behind The Scenes Of An Intricate FBI StingHuffington Post

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Journalist James Risen talks national security, CIA at Pulitzer celebration - Daily Northwestern

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Daily Northwestern

Journalist James Risen talks national security, CIA at Pulitzer celebration
Daily Northwestern
Risen — who has covered the CIA for most of his career — said reporting on the intelligence agency is difficult. The agency rarely holds press conferences, he said, and it takes time to build trust with sources. Risen said traditional ways of ...

Police and Tech Giants Wrangle Over Encryption on Capitol Hill

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Behind-the-scenes lobbying heightens in this next phase of a divide over digital security that erupted when Apple refused to help unlock an iPhone used in a mass shooting.

Close Encounters With Jets Show Russia’s Anger at NATO Buildup, U.S. Says 

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Obama administration officials interpreted three incidents involving fighter jets in the last month as a warning to stay out of the Baltics, but said that would not happen.

Oil Prices Jump on Strong China Crude Imports - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

Oil Prices Jump on Strong China Crude Imports
Wall Street Journal
Crude-oil prices climbed in early Asian trade Monday as the market honed in on China's strong crude imports last month, despite Saudi Arabia's unexpected removal of its long-serving oil minister Ali al-Naimi. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, ...
MarketsFast Asia Open: Markets weigh payrolls, oil, China tradeFinancial Times

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U.S. airstrike on Afghan hospital the culmination of a tragedy of errors 

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Several times in the hours leading up to the disastrous U.S. airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, American military operators came tantalizingly close to making the right decision that could have averted the deaths of 42 patients and staff.
But each time, haste or a broken communication system or ...

This Vietnamese Base Will Decide the South China Sea's Fate - The National Interest Online

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The National Interest Online

This Vietnamese Base Will Decide the South China Sea's Fate
The National Interest Online
Tensions are running higher in the South China Sea as it becomes increasingly evident thatChina's land reclamation and military buildup represents a concerted policy by Beijing to carve out a large exclusive economic and strategic domain for itself.

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Foreigners fall to death while kissing on Seoul rooftop

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An American man and a South African woman fell to their deaths while kissing on the rooftop of a three-story villa in the center of Seoul, police said Monday.
     

Iraq veteran finds a way out of PTSD through cannabis

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Bennet Says He Has ‘No Answers’ for ‘Most Expensive Health Care on the Planet’ From Obamacare 

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Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet said he has “no answers” for Coloradans who are suffering with the “most expensive health care on the planet” from Obamacare.
In an interview with the editorial board of the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Bennet said it is “next to impossible” to fix the president’s health care law.
The Affordable Care Act is making headway against costs most everywhere but in western and central Colorado, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said Friday.
Those areas have “some of the most expensive health care on the planet,” Bennet told The Daily Sentinel editorial board.
Fixing the act, frequently referred to as Obamacare, is next to impossible in the politically charged atmosphere in Washington, D.C., in which Democrats refuse to change it at all and Republicans want to toss it wholesale, Bennet said.
Grand Junction, which was touted as having some of the lowest Medicare costs, also has some of the highest health care costs overall, according to a database study of spending by insurance plans.
Resolving such issues is no clear task, Bennet said.
“I don’t have answers for Grand Junction, but I’m aware of the problem,” he said.
UnitedHealth, the largest insurer in the country, recently announced it will leave most Obamacare exchanges by next year, citing huge loses. The company lost $475 million last year in the exchanges, and expects to lose another $500 million in 2016.
Other companies are expecting “substantial increases” for Obamacare premiums next year. The biggest co-op in Colorado’s Obamacare exchange has already folded, leaving 83,000 people to searching for new health insurance.
Bennet voted for Obamacare and promised in 2009 “if you have coverage and you like it, you can keep it.”
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FBI sting, sham company, get bill through PA Senate - Allentown Morning Call

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PoliticsPA

FBI sting, sham company, get bill through PA Senate
Allentown Morning Call
The pay-to-play investigation that snared political power broker John H. Estey involved an elaborate FBI sting in which agents created a fake Florida recycling company and spent lavishly on lobbyists and campaign contributions to push the firm's agenda ...
Details on the FBI's Pay-to-Play InvestigationPoliticsPA

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MSNBC Host Says Trump Made ‘Vicious Attacks’ About Clinton’s ‘Alleged Affairs’ 

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MSNBC reporter Tamron Hall said Monday that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had made “vicious attacks” against Bill Clinton for his “alleged affairs.”
Trump has brought up Clinton’s sexual past as a means of criticizing Hillary Clinton, his likely opponent in this fall’s general election.
“These vicious attacks that Trump has leveled against Hillary Clinton,” Hall said. “Her husband’s affair or affairs, alleged affairs.”
Bill Clinton has admitted to an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky during a televised speech in 1998, and he also has admitted having an affair with Gennifer Flowers before he was in the White House.
“Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate,” Clinton said, after initially saying he did not “have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” “In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part, for which I am solely and completely responsible.”
Bill Clinton has been accused of inappropriate relationships with multiple other women dating back throughout his political career.

Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages | TheHill

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The HillTube

Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) is criticizing the Obama administration as having tried to strong-arm a former senator who is pushing to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 report dealing with Saudi Arabia.
He recounted how Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) and her father, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-Fla.), were detained by the FBI in 2011 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. The message from the agents, according to the Grahams, was to quit pushing for declassification of the 28 pages.
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The FBI "took a former senator, a former governor, grabbed him in an airport, hustled him into a room with armed force to try to intimidate him into taking different positions on issues of public policy and important national policy, and the fact that he wasn’t intimidated because he was calm doesn’t show that they weren’t trying to intimidate him," Sherman said in an interview with The Hill's Molly K. Hooper.
Tampa Bay Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan detailed the incident in a column on Aug. 7, 2015.
The Obama administration is now reviewing the secret 28 pages for possible release. Some former officials have said the pages show officials in Saudi Arabia were complicit in 9/11, which the country strongly denies. The Saudi government has pushed for the pages to be released.
Watch the video above to hear Sherman discuss the matter and his take on U.S.-Saudi relationship.
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