Kremlin pursues more cases against critics of Ukraine war

Kremlin pursues more cases against critics of Ukraine war
Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against prominent opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. for allegedly spreading “false information” about the country’s armed forces, his lawyer said Friday. (AP File/Photo)
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Updated 22 April 2022

Kremlin pursues more cases against critics of Ukraine war

Kremlin pursues more cases against critics of Ukraine war
  • Russian media reported that similar charges were being drawn up against outspoken tech executive Ilya Krasilshchik, the former publisher of Russia's top independent news site, Meduza
  • Russia adopted a law criminalizing spreading false information about its military shortly after its troops rolled into Ukraine in late February

DUBAI: Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against prominent opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. for allegedly spreading “false information” about the country’s armed forces, his lawyer said Friday.
Russian media reported that similar charges were being drawn up against outspoken tech executive Ilya Krasilshchik, the former publisher of Russia’s top independent news site, Meduza. The moves against the two Kremlin critics are part of a widening crackdown against individuals speaking out against Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Russia adopted a law criminalizing spreading false information about its military shortly after its troops rolled into Ukraine in late February. The offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Human rights advocates so far have counted 32 cases targeting critics of the invasion.
Kara-Murza is a journalist and a former associate of late Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in 2015, and oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was jailed for years in Russia. Kara-Murza himself was hospitalized with poisoning symptoms twice, in 2015 and 2017.
Lawyer Vadim Prokhorov told reporters that the false information case against Kara-Murza cited a March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives as the basis for the latest charges.
In March and early April, the activist made a series of public addresses in which he denounced Russia’s actions in Ukraine. In an April 11 interview with American television network CNN, he described the Kremlin as “a regime of murderers.”
Kara-Murza was detained hours after the interview and jailed for 15 days for disobeying a police officer. Prokhorov said his client had been due to appear in court for an appeal hearing Friday but instead was taken in for questioning at the Russian Investigative Committee headquarters.
Prokhorov said Kara-Murza has maintained his innocence.
The spokespeople for a Moscow court said investigators have petitioned to place Kara-Murza in pre-trial detention for an initial period of two months. A hearing on the petition was scheduled for Friday afternoon, Prokhorov said on Facebook.
Krasilshchik, the tech executive who left Russia in early March, told Meduza that he had learnt about the case against him from news reports, which by Friday evening remained unconfirmed. Russian media have linked the charges to an Instagram post, featuring what Krasilshchik said was the photo of charred human remains in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
“You can’t recover after seeing the images from Bucha,” the photo caption read. “You feel that the army of this country of ours, it’s capable of anything … and so is the country. That we’re just an order away from mass executions.”
Also Friday, veteran Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov said in an online statement that he was “temporarily” leaving the country.
“The situation around me and my rights organizations has been frightening for a long time,” Ponomaryov announced on the website of the NGO “For Human Rights,” which he led from 2019 to 2021, when it shut down due to Russia’s controversial restrictions on entities deemed “foreign agents.”
“There have been constant provocations, spam attacks, detentions, and — I will be frank — ambiguous information from various sources regarding (authorities’) plans to do with me,” he added.
Ponomaryov, a former State Duma lawmaker who had helped found Russia’s oldest human rights organization in the 1980s, has been a vocal opponent of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and initiated multiple public petitions against it.
In his statement Friday, he claimed to be “allowing himself to take a vacation” to “look after my health …, but also think through the difficult situation in which we all find ourselves, and plan further (campaigning) activities, which we cannot stop by any means.”
“I doubt my time away will be long,” he added.


US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine
Updated 55 min 32 sec ago

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine
  • The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition
  • The new package took the total military aid from the United States to Ukraine since the Russians invaded on February 24 to $16.2 billion

WASHINGTON: The United States announced Wednesday a new package of arms and supplies for Ukraine worth $1.1 billion for reinforcing Kyiv’s forces over the medium and long term.
The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition, systems to counter drones, radars and armored vehicles, according to a Defense Department statement.
The package “represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces” as they continue to battle the invading Russian army, the Pentagon said.
The new package took the total military aid from the United States to Ukraine since the Russians invaded on February 24 to $16.2 billion.
It includes 18 more Himars systems, highly accurate missile systems which the Ukrainians have been using effectively since June to hit Russian arms depots and command posts far behind the front lines.
It also includes 150 armored vehicles, 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, trucks and trailers, and systems to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s Iranian-made drones increasingly deployed on the battlefield.


Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
Updated 28 September 2022

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
  • King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe
  • The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio, held a summit meeting on September 28 with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is currently in Japan after attending the state funeral for former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo.
At the outset of the meeting that lasted 10 minutes according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo, Kishida expressed his appreciation for the king’s attendance at the state funeral and expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late former Prime Minister Abe.
King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe, and stated that late former Prime Minister Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.
Prime Minister Kishida extended his congratulations to Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.
The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Prime Minister Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees).
In response, King Abdullah II expressed his gratitude for Japan’s wide-ranging cooperation for Jordan and UNRWA and stated that he would like to cooperate with Japan in advancing projects involving countries in the region.
The two leaders confirmed that they will continue to work closely together for the long-term stability of the region, according to the ministry.
 


EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
Updated 28 September 2022

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
  • Ursula von der Leyen: ‘We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine ... we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation’
  • Von der Leyen: ‘We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia’

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed fresh sanctions against Russia over its war against Ukraine, including further trade restrictions, individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposal will now go to the bloc’s 27 member countries, which will need to overcome differences on the new sanctions and reach unanimity to implement them.
That may take time despite the EU being spurred into action by Russia’s partial military mobilization, nuclear threats to the West and moving to annex a swath of Ukraine.
“We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine. And we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation,” von der Leyen told reporters.
“We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the EU to further cut money flows to Russia from fossil fuel sales.
The G7 group of industrialized countries — where EU countries Italy, France and Germany are also members — already agreed to put such an oil price cap in place via insurers.
“If you are doing nothing it means you are just prolonging this war with Ukraine, this is just ridiculous, the whole civilized world has to be united on that,” Oleg Ustenko told reporters.
While the EU already agreed to stop importing Russian oil starting later this year, Ustenko said the “blood money” would keep on flowing to Moscow unless European companies are banned from insuring seaborne shipments.


Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
Updated 28 September 2022

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
  • The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday
  • “We have to react before the smugglers react,” said Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner
BERLIN: Austria announced Wednesday that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic, in a move that’s aimed at keeping migrants from entering.
The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday, the Austrian government said.
The Austrian interior ministry said the border controls are a response to the Czech Republic’s announcement, a day earlier, of controls on its border with Slovakia starting Thursday, and aim to ensure that human traffickers do not use Austria as an alternative.
“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told public broadcaster ORF.
Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone where people can normally cross borders without getting checked. However, temporary border controls have repeatedly been reinstated in the past, whether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic or to stop migrants from entering illegally.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters later on Wednesday that he would meet Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week to discuss the issue of migration.
“The states are not doing this for their own sake, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to reduce the pressure from the borders,” Nehammer said in Vienna.
Austria introduced controls along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, when more than 1 million migrants from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan entered the European Union. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended those controls, which remain in place.
Back then, only about 8,500 migrants were detained in the Czech Republic, while this year so far 12,000 migrants have been detained, the Czech interior ministry said, adding that most of them were Syrians. A total of 125 human smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase compared with the previous years.
Most migrants don’t want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, but travel through them to reach wealthier places like Germany, Sweden or Austria.
The Austrian border controls will initially be enforced at 11 crossing to Slovakia for 10 days.

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
Updated 28 September 2022

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
  • Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were stupid, adding that Moscow saw a sharp increase the profits of US companies supplying gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear.
Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea from two Russian gas pipelines at the center of an energy standoff.
Asked about claims Russia might somehow be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”
“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas — the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive... Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
“Before making any claims, we should wait for investigation into these ruptures, whether there was an explosion or not,” Peskov said. Information on the incident could be expected from Denmark and Sweden, he said.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday that three of four offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. All Nord Stream’s pipeline had not delivered gas by the time of the incident.
Nord Stream 1 has reported a significant pressure drop caused by the gas leak on both lines of the gas pipeline, while Nord Stream 2 said that a sharp pressure drop in line A was registered on Monday.