Second Abramovich superyacht docks in sanctions-free Turkey

Second Abramovich superyacht docks in sanctions-free Turkey
Bermuda-flagged luxury yacht “My Solaris,” belonging to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, is docked at the Aegean coastal resort on Bodrum district of Mugla on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 22 March 2022

Second Abramovich superyacht docks in sanctions-free Turkey

Second Abramovich superyacht docks in sanctions-free Turkey
  • Western governments have targeted Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs with sanctions
  • Eclipse, which is one of the world's biggest yachts at 162.5 metres, docked in the resort of Marmaris

DUBAI: A second superyacht linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich docked in a Turkish resort on Tuesday and sources familiar with the discussions said he and other wealthy Russians were looking to invest in Turkey given sanctions elsewhere.
Western governments have targeted Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs with sanctions as they seek to isolate President Vladimir Putin and his allies over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
While strongly criticizing the invasion, Turkey has said it opposes sanctions imposed by its NATO allies on principle. That could set it up as a possible safe haven for Russians seeking to make investments and preserve assets.
Eclipse, which is one of the world’s biggest yachts at 162.5 meters (533 feet), docked in the resort of Marmaris in southwest Turkey after skirting Greek islands, according to a Reuters witness and tracking data. It sails under a Bermuda flag.
The vessel is reported to have two helipads, nine decks, a swimming pool and built-in missile defenses.
Solaris, another superyacht linked to Abramovich, arrived a day earlier in the resort of Bodrum some 80 km (50 miles) away, after having also avoided the waters of European Union countries that have sanctioned the oligarchs.
They are among a string of yachts owned by Abramovich, according to reports in luxury goods publications SuperYachtFan, SuperYacht and Forbes.
Abramovich, the owner of English football club Chelsea, was in Istanbul briefly last week, according to flight tracking data and people familiar with the travels. There was no indication he was aboard either yacht.
A source in Ankara with knowledge of recent conversations with Abramovich said he and other wealthy Russians were looking to invest in Turkey given the sanctions imposed elsewhere.
“He wants to do some work and may buy some assets,” the source said, adding that the oligarch already had some assets in Turkey. The source did not give details.
Another source in Ankara said Turkey was not currently considering joining sanctions action and expected wealthy Russians to purchases assets and make investments.
“We act sensitively on issues such as bringing the oligarchs’ money to Turkey,” the person said.
A spokesperson for Abramovich did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The foreign and interior ministries did not immediately comment on whether Western governments had requested that Turkey seize sanctioned assets. Last week, the banking regulator told Reuters it was monitoring sanctions applied on Russia but had not instructed banks to limit citizens of any country.

BOAT PROTESTERS
A small group of people on a motor boat protested in front of Solaris as it docked, holding Ukrainian flags emblazoned with the words “no war,” footage shared by the expat association “Ukrainians in Bodrum” showed.
With the arrival of Eclipse and Solaris, Abramovich has for now stationed upwards of $1.2 billion of his fortune in Turkey, with each vessel estimated to be worth $600 million or more. Russian-linked yachts are stuck in several countries including Italy, Spain and Germany.
Sanctions are delicate for Turkey, which has close trade and diplomatic links with both Russia and Ukraine. Critics of President Tayyip Erdogan’s government have said the balancing act could leave it vulnerable internationally.
“The anchoring in Turkish marinas of yachts embargoed in European countries may leave Turkey in a difficult situation in the international arena,” Utku Cakirozer, an MP from the main opposition CHP party, told Reuters.
After meeting Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he supported Turkey’s role in maintaining dialogue with both Ukraine and Russia.
“Turkey is doing everything that it can do. It is one of the few open lines we have with both,” he told a news conference.
“We would very much favor for Turkey to implement all the sanctions but I think we also have to be happy with the fact that Turkey is playing its diplomatic role.”
Russia calls its invasion a “special military operation” aimed at disarming Ukraine and removing what it says are dangerous nationalists in government. Ukraine and Western allies say that is a false pretext for an unprovoked war.
Turkey has sought to mediate a cease-fire and peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv.
The 140-meter (460-foot) Solaris, which also sails under a Bermuda flag, remained moored in Bodrum on Tuesday, a week after it left Montenegro’s Adriatic resort town of Tivat.


NATO launches ratification process for Sweden, Finland membership

NATO launches ratification process for Sweden, Finland membership
Updated 12 min 11 sec ago

NATO launches ratification process for Sweden, Finland membership

NATO launches ratification process for Sweden, Finland membership
  • Move will further increase Russia’s strategic isolation in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine

BRUSSELS: The NATO has launched the ratification process for Sweden, Finland membership on Tuesday, sending the bids of the two nations to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals.
The move will further increase Russia’s strategic isolation in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and military struggles there since.
The 30 ambassadors and permanent representatives were earlier set to formally approve the decisions of last week’s NATO summit when the alliance made the historic decision to invite Russia’s neighbor Finland and Scandinavian partner Sweden to join the military club.
Despite the agreement in the alliance, parliamentary approval in member state Turkey could still pose problems for their final inclusion as members.

 


Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries fail to fully meet Turkey’s demand to extradite terror suspects with links to outlawed Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric accused of a failed 2016 coup in Turkey.
He said Turkey’s Parliament could refuse to ratify the deal. It is a potent threat since NATO accession must be formally approved by all 30 member states, which gives each a blocking right.
Tuesday’s expected signing-off does bring both nations deeper into NATO’s fold already. As close partners, they already attended some meetings that involved issues that immediately affected them. As official invitees, they can attend all meetings of the ambassadors even if they do not yet have any voting rights.

 


Monsoon rains lash Pakistan; 6 killed in country’s southwest

Monsoon rains lash Pakistan; 6 killed in country’s southwest
Updated 05 July 2022

Monsoon rains lash Pakistan; 6 killed in country’s southwest

Monsoon rains lash Pakistan; 6 killed in country’s southwest
  • Floods triggered by seasonal monsoon rains wreak havoc in Pakistan every year, killing dozens

QUETTA, Pakistan: At least six people, including women and children, were killed when the roofs of their homes collapsed in heavy rains lashing southwestern Pakistan and other parts of the country, a provincial disaster management agency said Tuesday.
There were fears the death toll could be higher as several people went missing after flash flooding hit southwestern Baluchistan province’s remote areas overnight, according to a statement from the agency.
Authorities say the latest spell of torrential rains, which started on Monday and continued on Tuesday, also damaged dozens of homes in Baluchistan.
Since June, rains have killed 38 people and damaged more than 200 homes across Pakistan, including in Baluchistan, where over the weekend, a passenger bus skidded off a road and fell into a deep ravine amid heavy rain, killing 19 people.
Floods triggered by seasonal monsoon rains wreak havoc in Pakistan every year, killing dozens.


Hacker claims to have stolen 1 billion records of Chinese citizens from police

A 3D printed model of men working on computers are seen in this illustration taken, July 5, 2021. (REUTERS)
A 3D printed model of men working on computers are seen in this illustration taken, July 5, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 July 2022

Hacker claims to have stolen 1 billion records of Chinese citizens from police

A 3D printed model of men working on computers are seen in this illustration taken, July 5, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • “Databases contain information on 1 Billion Chinese national residents and several billion case records, including: name, address, birthplace, national ID number, mobile number, all crime/case details”

SHANGHAI: A hacker has claimed to have procured a trove of personal information from the Shanghai police on one billion Chinese citizens, which tech experts say, if true, would be one of the biggest data breaches in history.
The anonymous Internet user, identified as “ChinaDan,” posted on hacker forum Breach Forums last week offering to sell the more than 23 terabytes (TB) of data for 10 bitcoin, equivalent to about $200,000.
“In 2022, the Shanghai National Police (SHGA) database was leaked. This database contains many TB of data and information on Billions of Chinese citizen,” the post said.
“Databases contain information on 1 Billion Chinese national residents and several billion case records, including: name, address, birthplace, national ID number, mobile number, all crime/case details.”
Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the post.
The Shanghai government and police department did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Reuters was also unable to reach the self-proclaimed hacker, ChinaDan, but the post was widely discussed on China’s Weibo and WeChat social media platforms over the weekend with many users worried it could be real.
The hashtag “data leak” was blocked on Weibo by Sunday afternoon.
Kendra Schaefer, head of tech policy research at Beijing-based consultancy Trivium China, said in a post on Twitter it was “hard to parse truth from rumor mill.”
If the material the hacker claimed to have came from the Ministry of Public Security, it would be bad for “a number of reasons,” Schaefer said.
“Most obviously it would be among biggest and worst breaches in history,” she said.
Zhao Changpeng, CEO of Binance, said on Monday the cryptocurrency exchange had stepped up user verification processes after the exchange’s threat intelligence detected the sale of records belonging to 1 billion residents of an Asian country on the dark web.
He said on Twitter that a leak could have happened due to “a bug in an Elastic Search deployment by a (government) agency,” without saying if he was referring to the Shanghai police case. He did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
The claim of a hack comes as China has vowed to improve protection of online user data privacy, instructing its tech giants to ensure safer storage after public complaints about mismanagement and misuse.
Last year, China passed new laws governing how personal information and data generated within its borders should be handled. (Reporting by Brenda Goh, Sophie Yu, Stella Qiu, Eduardo Baptista and Josh Ye; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Australia floods worsen as thousands more Sydney residents evacuate

An emergency vehicle blocks access to the flooded Windsor Bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Monday, July 4, 2022.
An emergency vehicle blocks access to the flooded Windsor Bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Monday, July 4, 2022.
Updated 05 July 2022

Australia floods worsen as thousands more Sydney residents evacuate

An emergency vehicle blocks access to the flooded Windsor Bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Monday, July 4, 2022.
  • An intense low-pressure system off Australia’s east coast is forecast to bring heavy rain through Monday across New South Wales

SYDNEY: Hundreds of homes have been inundated in and around Australia’s largest city in a flood emergency that was impacting 50,000 people, officials said Tuesday.
Emergency response teams made 100 rescues overnight of people trapped in cars on flooded roads or in inundated homes in the Sydney area, State Emergency Service manager Ashley Sullivan said.
Days of torrential rain have caused dams to overflow and waterways to break their banks, bringing a fourth flood emergency in 16 months to parts of the city of 5 million people.
The New South Wales state government declared a disaster across 23 local government areas overnight, activating federal government financial assistance for flood victims.

A couple walk through flood waters from their semi-submerged car at Richmond on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. (AP)

Evacuation orders and warnings to prepare to abandon homes impacted 50,000 people, up from 32,000 on Monday, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said.
“This event is far from over. Please don’t be complacent, wherever you are. Please careful when you’re driving on our roads. There is still substantial risk for flash flooding across our state,” Perrottet said.
Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke credited the skill and commitment of rescue crews for preventing any death or serious injury by the fourth day of the flooding emergency.
Parts of southern Sydney had been lashed by more than 20 centimeters (nearly 8 inches) of rain in 24 hours, more than 17 percent of the city’s annual average, Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Jonathan How said.
Severe weather warnings of heavy rain remained in place across Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Tuesday. The warnings also extended north of Sydney along the coast and into the Hunter Valley.
The worst flooding was along the Hawkesbury-Nepean rivers system along Sydney’s northern and western fringes.
“The good news is that by tomorrow afternoon, it is looking to be mostly dry but, of course, we are reminding people that these floodwaters will remain very high well after the rain has stopped,” How said.
“There was plenty of rain fall overnight and that is actually seeing some rivers peak for a second time. So you’ve got to take many days, if not a week, to start to see these floodwaters start to recede,” How added.
The wild weather and mountainous seas along the New South Wales coast thwarted plans to tow a stricken cargo ship with 21 crew members to the safety of open sea.
The ship lost power after leaving port in Wollongong, south of Sydney, on Monday morning and risked being grounded by 8-meter (26-foot) swells and winds blowing at 30 knots (34 mph) against cliffs.
An attempt to tow the ship with tugboats into open ocean ended when a towline snapped in an 11-meter (36-foot) swell late Monday, Port Authority chief executive Philip Holliday said.
The ship was maintaining its position on Tuesday farther from the coast than it had been on Monday with two anchors and the help of two tugboats. The new plan was to tow the ship to Sydney when weather and sea conditions calmed as early as Wednesday, Holliday said. The original plan had been for the ship’s crew to repair their engine at sea.
“We’re in a better position than we were yesterday,” Holliday said. “We’re in relative safety.”
Perrottet described the tugboat crews’ response on Monday to save the ship as “heroic.”
“I want to thank those men and women who were on those crews last night for the heroic work they did in incredibly treacherous conditions. To have an 11-meter (36-foot) swell, to be undergoing and carrying out that work is incredibly impressive,” Perrottet said.


Search efforts resume after glacier collapse in Italian Alps

Search efforts resume after glacier collapse in Italian Alps
Updated 04 July 2022

Search efforts resume after glacier collapse in Italian Alps

Search efforts resume after glacier collapse in Italian Alps
  • Rising average temperatures have caused the Marmolada glacier, like many others around the world, to shrink steadily over recent decades

CANAZEI, Italy: Search and rescue operations resumed on Monday in the Italian Alps with 17 people missing, authorities said, after part of a mountain glacier collapsed, killing at least six people and injuring eight.

The avalanche took place on the Marmolada, which at more than 3,300 meters is the highest peak in the Dolomites, a range in the eastern Italian Alps straddling the regions of Trento and Veneto.

Rising average temperatures have caused the Marmolada glacier, like many others around the world, to shrink steadily over recent decades.

It was not clear what caused the ice to break way but an early summer heatwave across Italy saw temperature rise abruptly, including on the Marmolada.

“For weeks the temperatures at high altitudes in the Alps have been well above normal values, while this past winter there has been little snow, which hardly protects the glacial basins anymore,” Renato Colucci from the polar sciences institute of the National Research Council (CNR) said in a statement.

Four victims were identified on Monday, three of them Italian, including two alpine guides, and another from the Czech Republic, news agency AGI reported, citing rescuers.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the head of the National Civil Protection agency were due to visit the area later on Monday.