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  • Alexei Sobchenko: Kremlin panics after Dutch report, and it should
    ATLANTIC COUNCIL Alexei Sobchenko. Oct. 4 at 6:11 pm
    Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor in the Netherlands, who leads the international investigation after a surface-to-air missile hit Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people aboard, most of them Dutch citizens, addresses a news conference in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Anthony Deutsch

    The report of the Dutch-led investigation team on the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine offered a momentary glimpse into the true nature of the proverbial riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Instead of denying any Russian involvement in the death of 298 people in July 2014, a number of official spokespersons, journalists, and bloggers known for their close ties to the Kremlin reacted nervously and with contradictory responses.

    Dismissing the report as based on “speculation, unqualified and unprofessional information,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov hinted vaguely that new data on the crash had emerged. A representative of Almaz-Antey, the company that produces the Buk missile (the model that destroyed the Malaysian Boeing), did not rule out an accidental launch caused by poor maintenance and a possible violation of procedures by the missile launch crew. A permanent fixture in the presidential press corps, Andrei Kolesnikov, indicated that Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been misled by his advisers, speculating that if Putin finds out that pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas deliberately shot down a civilian airliner, he will turn his back on them. And the chief editor of the influential Echo Moskvy radio station, Alexei Venediktov, said something similar, though he presumed that Putin would thoroughly investigate Russian military involvement in this tragedy.

    This unusual variety of perspectives on such a crucial issue betrays fear in Moscow’s official circles. Before the report, Kremlin propaganda denied not only Russian or separatist involvement in the tragedy, but even refused to admit that the Boeing was shot down by a Russian-made missile. With a straight face, pro-Kremlin media quoted non-existent Spanish air traffic controller Carlos, Ukrainian Air Force Captain Voloshin, and other fakes, though none of the numerous explanations Moscow offered could hold water. Why would Peskov be so hesitant to deny Russian involvement now, while Almaz-Antey, Kolesnikov, Venediktov, and many others dared to spell out what had been anathema for Kremlin only days before? Putin and his cohorts have been caught red-handed in willful mendacity on many previous occasions and the Russian regime has invariably maintained its collective poker face. No one seriously expects the Russian government to extradite the accused perpetrators to the West. What caused such an uncoordinated response this time?

    The international investigative team indicated that about a hundred individuals were "linked to the crash or to the transport of the Buk" missile, though the investigators have yet to determine who could be held criminally responsible. There is a chance that some of them belong to Russia’s top leadership, perhaps all the way up to Putin himself. We know what happened to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after he was implicated in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. Gaddafi became an international pariah, banned from visiting all Western capitals other than New York during UN General Assembly sessions.

    A similar ban might be considered for the perpetrators of the MH17 shootdown. A quick detour through recent Soviet history can help clarify what such a ban would mean for contemporary Russian elites. Members of the old Soviet ruling class (nomenklatura) who had the privilege of traveling to the West were always conscious that behind them stood not only the military and nuclear might of a superpower, but also Marxism-Leninism. While that ideology was the object of boundless cynicism within the Soviet homeland and even within the nomenklatura, it was relentlessly propagated as an instrument of Soviet power abroad. Over the years, it made disciples among illustrious Ivy League professors, poor third world peasants, and prosperous French and Italian shopkeepers who joined the Communist Party. Regardless of their own lack of belief in communist ideals and its kingdom come of total equality, Soviet nomenklatura were well aware of the international weight of their country’s official ideology.

    Today’s Russia is not only a smaller and weaker country than the Soviet Union, but it also lacks a universal mobilizing ideology to offer the rest of the world and intimidate opponents. Russian Orthodox Christianity and Russian culture, outside of Russia, have nothing close to the attraction once exerted by Communism. Nor do they engender fear within the US or European governments. The new Russian elites have filled the resulting ideological void by indulging in high-end consumerism abroad. The symbols of their new religion are items from expensive Western stores, large apartments in London and New York, luxury yachts and private jets, and enrolling their offspring in boarding schools and universities in Britain and the US. Conspicuous, luxurious consumption abroad has become a defining element of their lifestyle.

    Being cut off from enjoying their wealth in the West would render Russian elites’ existence drab and even senseless. Nothing would scare them more than an extension of the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which banned a handful of Russian nationals from entering the US due to their complicity in the death of a Russian lawyer investigating corruption.

    The people responsible for downing MH17 could be subject to a similar travel ban. The dreadful idea of spending summer vacations on the Black Sea instead of the Cote d’Azur, shopping in Moscow instead of London or New York, and skiing in the Caucasus instead of Courchevel would probably suffice to turn some wealthy Russians against Putin. Russian history has several examples of Russian elites turning against their national leader. Putin has every reason to fear the fate of Tsars Peter III and Pavel I, or even General Secretary Joseph Stalin, who died under mysterious circumstances.
    Kremlin Panics after Dutch Report, and It Should

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    • 17:59 06.10.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
      Ukrainian parliament extends moratorium on farmland sales at least until 2018

      The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has extended the moratorium on farmland sales at least until 2018.

      A total of 297 lawmakers voted for this decision on Thursday.

      Batkivschyna faction leader Yulia Tymoshenko suggested prolonging the moratorium for at least five years, but said that if her proposal gets no support, the moratorium should be extended at least for a year.
      Ukrainian parliament extends moratorium on farmland sales at least until 2018

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      • Tips for travelers to Russia
        UNIAN Roman Savchuk 06 Oct 2016

        Ukrainian citizens traveling abroad should know: it is the Ukrainian Consulate that protects their rights in other countries, including Russia, with which Ukraine has diplomatic relations , including Russia. According to the presidential Decree "On Consular Statute of Ukraine", the Consul keeps records of citizens who reside in a particular country or come for a short trip. Thus, formally, once a citizen crosses the border, they automatically become an object of the consulate monitoring.

        In case when Ukrainians enter the Russian Federation, the consul shall brief them on the Russian legislation. Besides, he has a power of attorney to represent the interests of Ukrainian citizens in the institutions of the receiving State. If citizens of Ukraine inform the consul that they do not require such representation or that another person will represent their interests, the consul’s representation is terminated. However, in any case, if an incident occurs when the Ukrainian citizens are being brought to justice in Russia (in criminal, civil, or administrative cases), the consul controls the situation on its compliance with the law.

        When traveling into Russia, in order to pre-empt any accusations of violating local legislation, the Ukrainian citizens should consider the following. First of all, citizens of Ukraine cross into Russia on a visa-free basis. However, it must be remembered that the stay of Ukrainians in the Russian Federation is limited to 90 days (this restriction does not apply if a citizen of Ukraine has obtained a permanent residence permit).

        The second thing to remember is that the term of administrative detention in Russia shall not exceed three hours with the exception of administrative proceedings into border violations and breach of the rules of stay, into the offenses committed in internal sea waters, territorial sea, on the continental shelf, or the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation, or into violations of customs rules (in these cases, the detention may be extended to 48 hours).

        The third thing is that in case of detention in a criminal case, a citizen of Ukraine must be guaranteed: the right to call their relatives, the right to counsel, the right to remain silent or testify, and the right to communicate in their native language.

        It is always a personal right of the Ukrainians to choose whether they should travel to Russia or abstain from such trip. Moreover, in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, any person who legally resides in the Ukrainian territory may move freely within its borders or leave the country. Only the Ukrainian court may in some cases restrict such a right.

        With regard to the risks associated with the political factor, I would not recommend traveling to Russia to the Ukrainian citizens who have taken an active civic stance, who are public figures without the so-called "political immunity". We remember the case when the member of the Ukrainian parliament was detained at the march organized in memory of Boris Nemtsov in March 2015. That time, it all boiled down to a short-term detention, but only due to the special status of a people's deputy and the general media stir.

        There is a risk for Ukrainian visitors in Russia most certainly when people, because of their profession, can be used as hostages of the current situation. But, in any case, it is always a private matter in a democratic and civic state to decide whether to cross the border.

        Tips for travelers to Russia - news about social life | unian | UNIAN

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        • Russia has suspended its nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the United States
          UAWIRE ORG October 6, 2016 10:22:00 AM

          The Russian government has suspended its agreement to cooperate in scientific research and developments in nuclear energy with the United States. The agreement was signed on the 16th of September, 2013 in Vienna, as stated on the website of the Russian Government.

          “The continued renewal of sanctions against Russia by the United States, including the suspension of U.S.-Russian cooperation in the area of nuclear energy requires the adoption of countermeasures,” the document explained.

          The Russian government noted that in April 2016, Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation received a letter from the U.S. Department of Energy at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, which notified Rosatom on the suspension of cooperation in the area of nuclear energy due to the events in Ukraine.

          “Such step of the U.S. side represents a significant violation of the terms of agreement, the objective of which is expansion of cooperation between the sides in scientific research and development in nuclear energy,” the document notes. Russia has already suspended the agreement with the U.S. on disposition of weapons-grade plutonium. UAWire - Russia has suspended its nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the United States

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          • 15:13 06.10.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
            Kremlin spokesman on Surkov-Nuland talks: Understanding that Kyiv not complying with Minsk Agreements growing

            The understanding is growing that Kyiv is not complying with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements on settling the conflict in Donbas, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said in commenting on Wednesday's negotiations between Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

            "The understanding that Kyiv is not complying with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements, especially its political component, is growing. The steps that are clearly stated on paper and signed by President Poroshenko have still not been taken," Peskov said in reply to a question from a Ukrainian journalist on Thursday.

            In this light, "the parties [Surkov and Nuland] have been talking precisely in the context of the need to use all possible influence and methods of pressure on Kyiv so as to prompt the Ukrainian side to implement the obligations it has undertaken," he said.

            Asked by a journalist to clarify whether he implied that the U.S.' understanding of this was growing, Peskov replied he meant "all participants." Kremlin spokesman on Surkov-Nuland talks: Understanding that Kyiv not complying with Minsk Agreements growing

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            • 12:12 06.10.2016 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
              Court declares unlawful transfer of forest to Firtash's enterprise in Zhytomyr region

              Ukraine's higher administrative court has upheld the position of Prosecutor General's Office in Zhytomyr region and the ruling of Zhytomyr administrative court of appeals regarding the unlawfulness of the removal of 95 ha of forest by Zhytomyr Regional Council from municipal ownership and the transfer of the forest section to an enterprise, part of Group DF, with the purpose of production of titanium ore.

              The press service of Zhytomyr Prosecutor General's Office has reported that the higher administrative court did not satisfy the counterclaim of Zhytomyr Regional Council and the ruling of the Zhytomyr administrative court of appeals is left valid.

              Zhytomyr Regional Council in May 2015 made the illegal decision to reduce land parcels and removed 95 ha of forest changing the purpose of its use for production of titanium ore in Volodarsk-Volynsky district.

              Prosecutor General's Office in Zhytomyr region challenged the decision of the regional council in Zhytomyr administrative court of appeals. The regional council filed a counterclaim to the higher administrative court.

              Valki-Ilmenite and Mezhdurechensk Mining and Concentration Complex (MMC) are part of titanium business of Group DF. The group also invests in construction of two more MMCs – Stremyhorodky (Zhytomyr region) and Motronivsky MMC (Dnipropetrovsk region). Court declares unlawful transfer of forest to Firtash's enterprise in Zhytomyr region

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              • Future war with Russia or China would be 'extremely lethal and fast', U.S. generals warn Any future war with Russia or China would be "extremely lethal and fast" and produce violence on the scale not seen for 60 years, according to U.S. generals, The Independent reports.
                UNIAN 06 Oct 2016

                Artificial intelligence and automated weapons systems will accelerate any future conflict, Major General William Hix has warned.

                "A conventional conflict in the near future will be extremely lethal and fast," he told a future-of-the-Army panel on Tuesday, The Independent reported citing Defense One. "And we will not own the stopwatch."

                He warned that technological advancements made by Russia and China in recent years had forced the White House to prepare for "violence on the scale that the U.S. Army has not seen since Korea.

                The U.S. faces existential threats from modern states "acting aggressively in militarized competition," Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, Army deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and training, said, hinting at Russia.
                Such a war is "almost guaranteed," Army Chief of Staff General Mark A Milley said at the same event.

                Future adversaries could end the US's traditional air superiority, and anti-access, area-denial capabilities could prevent the Navy from getting near the battlefield.

                So "land forces will have to enable sea forces," and the Army "is definitely going to have to dominate the air above our battle space," he added.

                The Army will also have to be prepared to engage in cyber warfare, work without space-based communications and precision navigation it has come to take for granted, and fight in a complex urban settings.

                As UNIAN reported earlier citing The Express, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked fears of World War Three after ordering the evacuation of 40 million Russians in a nationwide massive drill launched October 4, 2016.

                The huge four-day "civil defense" exercises have set alarm bells ringing in Washington and London, with tensions already high over disagreements in Syria
                Future war with Russia or China would be 'extremely lethal and fast', U.S. generals warn

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                • Moscow threatens to shoot down any unidentified flying targets over Syria More sabre rattling is coming from Russia as the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov says missiles will be downed to "secure" the Russian military bases in Syria, according to RIA Novosti.
                  UNIAN 06 Oct 2016

                  "I should remind the U.S. 'strategists' that the air shield of Russian military bases in Hmeymim and Tartous is ensured by S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, whose range can be a surprise to any unidentified flying objects," said Konashenkov.

                  He also stressed that the operators of the Russian air defense systems "will hardly have time" to clarify the exact flight route of the missiles and the flag of their carriers.

                  "All the illusions of amateurs of the existence of some 'stealth' aircraft will face a disappointing reality," said the speaker of the Russian Defense Ministry.

                  Moscow justifies its threats as well as the deployment of S-300’s with the earlier strike of the coalition strike on the Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zor and the need to "protect" their troops in Syria.

                  Moscow threatens to shoot down any unidentified flying targets over Syria

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                  • Oct. 7, 2016 UKRAINE TODAY
                    Court battle over Scythian gold

                    Oleksandr Snidalov, a blogger and an activist of the Ukrainian community in the Netherlands, on what leading Dutch internet media have to say on the matter

                    Survey of the printed press will come a bit later, and meanwhile, let me show you what sites of top Dutch newspapers tell about the trial on the Scythian gold. The only influential media, which did not post anything concerning the matter on its site, is De Telegraaf; the rest reacted instantly. Actually, they just reproduced the position presented at the court by the Amsterdam Museum officials, the Ukrainian side and the representatives of Crimean museums.

                    Author: Henny de Lange

                    There are fears that if returned to Crimea, Scythian gold could be taken out to Moscow. Conflicts are an integral part of Crimea. From the very dawn of history, whole peoples came and went away of this crossroads between Europe and Asia: Greeks and Romans from the West, Scythians, Huns and Tartars from the East. Today Crimean treasures play their part in the struggle, which takes place not on the native soil, but in a Dutch courtroom. The court will decide, who can claim the archaeological findings, brought to Amsterdam two years ago as a part of "Scythian Gold" exhibition. The candidates are four Crimean museums and one museum in Kyiv.

                    While the Netherlands has been gazing decorated Scythian helmets, the power in Ukraine had changed. Russia annexed Crimea and took it away from Ukraine. Annexation crept in museum field as well, provoking the question: who owns the Crimean treasures, if the peninsula itself suddenly turned to be Russian instead of Ukrainian? Neither the Netherlands nor the majority of UN states did not recognize this change. Four Crimean museums with the support of Russian culture minister demanded to return the artifacts. Ukraine claimed the exhibition was the state property and thus should be returned to Kyiv. There are fears that if returned to Crimea, Scythian gold could be moved to Moscow.

                    The Amsterdam Museum has decided to place all the objects in question in its own storage until their legal status is defined. The Museum does not want to take responsibility for the decision, which can upset either party. "That's very wise" - nge van der Vlies, professor of General Jurisprudence, comments – "That's a very complicated case and professional lawyers should work on it".

                    Crimean museums appeal to contracts of exhibition rent, signed by them and Amsterdam Museum. However, the question remains: do these valuables really belong to Crimean museums? "There is a link between the state and mentioned museums and we should find out if these contracts were signed on behalf of the Ukrainian State".

                    The necessity to deal with Dutch, Ukrainian and Russian legislation simultaneously only complicates the matter. International agreements on artworks do not cover situations like this. Russian media have already accused the Netherlands of theft, but that is unjustified, Van der Vlies says: "The museum will return all the valuables only to the rightful owner".

                    The subject of the today's process is the cultural heritage of Crimea. Van der Vlies: "This is not about art treasures anymore. This is a political contest, and the situation around MH17 influences the issue as well. It won't matter in the eye of the law, but still, it will play its part".

                    Media: Volkskrant
                    Author: Rob Gollin

                    Amsterdam Museum had no reasons to hold back Crimean treasures it exhibited back in 2014. "You can even ask: how could they be that patient?" said Martin Sanders, the lawyer representing Ukraine in the process. In the presence of representatives of Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Information Policy, and in front of representatives of four museums of Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, the court must decide: where the hundreds of exhibits should go to - Kyiv or Crimea? Ukraine claimed to be the state of origin of these valuables, while the museums insist all the the artifacts were found on the Crimean territory and had been stored there for many years.

                    Amsterdam museum stated that it did not return the exhibits to either of parties because of a possibility of lawsuits of the other party. After the annexation of Crimea by Russia, it became unclear who was the real owner of the treasures. Sanders said, "The collection of objects has become a hot potato for the Amsterdam Museum. Like a bone in the throat. You can say that museum has nearly choked on that". The ambition of Amsterdam Museum to charge the costs of storing the valuables (net weight – almost 3 tons) off Ukraine is "an attempt to get at least something from this situation".

                    As the lawyer of Amsterdam Museum Paul Loeb said, Russian occupation did not leave any possibilities for a hasty decision. The museum administration did not feel they have right to decide anything else under this circumstances. "We have just borrowed the valuables". The director of the museum Wim Hupperetz stated that Ukraine claims were "almost absurd". The legal dispute goes on for almost two years now.

                    According to him, Amsterdam Museum does not consider Ukraine to be the rightful owner of the exhibition. Four Crimean museums demand to return the treasures to Crimea. As their lawyer Michiel van Leeuwen said Kyiv could not just cancel the operative management on the collection. The historian working for one of these museums Nikita Khrapunov claimed the state of Ukraine did not attach value to historical treasures. Ukraine doing almost nothing to prevent illegal excavations and practically does not finance any historical research. "If by the court decision the treasures go to Kyiv, our people won't be able to see them anymore," he said.

                    The Deputy Ukrainian Minister of Information Policy Emine Dzheppar saw the violation of Ukrainian legislation during the process. "Which passport did you show while crossing Dutch border?" she asked the museums representatives acidly.

                    The court will rule out the decision on December 14th.


                    Hundreds of exhibits from Crimea stored in the Amsterdam Museum repository as for today, are located there illegally and should return to Ukraine, which is the owner state and, therefore, their rightful owner – these were the arguments of Ukrainian lawyers during the process in Amsterdam. The court has been hearing the case of ownership for Crimean artifacts exhibited in Amsterdam Museum in 2014. While the exhibition was held, Russia annexed Crimea and the question arose: where should the exhibits return – to four Crimean museums or to the state of Ukraine?

                    Crimean museums claim that the exhibits should return to Crimea. They had been found and stored there even before Ukraine existed as a state, stated the lawyers of Crimean museums. According to them, the dispute is not only about rules, but also about culture and about people. Hundreds of exhibits in question include Scythian golden items and rare lacquered chests.

                    Ukrainian lawyers claim that Crimean treasures are the part of Ukrainian cultural heritage, and as long as Crimea is under Russian occupation, the exhibits cannot return to museums there, as their administration already has taken "Russian citizenship".

                    Meanwhile, Amsterdam Museum has stored the exhibits in its own repository. If objects return to Ukraine, Amsterdam Museum will demand the payment for storing the valuables during the process. The latter can continue in case of appellation over the decision due to be ruled out on December 14th.

                    Media: NRC
                    Author: Paul Steenhuis

                    For Sanders and his colleague Gert-Jan van den Bergh from Bergh Stoop & Sanders law firm, it is obvious that the "the state of origin of the treasures is Ukraine". According to them, Kyiv has the legal right to demand returning of the exhibits, referring, particularly, to UNESCO decisions, as long as Crimea is an occupied territory. Ukrainian lawyers do not understand the decisions of Amsterdam Museum.

                    "Crimean museums which want these valuables to return to them took an active part in the process of occupation and now they present themselves as Russian ones," van den Bergh said.

                    The lawyer presenting Crimean museums, Michiel van Leeuwen, denied Ukrainian side statements and claimed "museums are neutral. They had to recognize Russian jurisdiction or otherwise lose financing".

                    In addition, he stated that the valuables ought to go back to the museums they belong to. He denounced the argument of impossibility of returning exhibits to Crimea because of its occupation. He referred the precedent of the so-called "Elgin Marbles" which are today exhibited at the British Museum of London.

                    "In 1802 Lord Elgin took the marble sculptures out of Athens allegedly to secure them against the Turkish occupation. These exhibits still did not return to Greece, although the state is no more occupied".

                    The Amsterdam Museum lawyer Paul Loeb van Nauta Dutilh stated that the court did not recognize itself in the image of "hot potato" described by Ukrainian lawyer. He claimed that the exhibits are stored in the secret repository on the Netherlands' territory and remain in a good condition. Amsterdam Museum also wants compensation for storage costs and legal costs from the party which the court will recognize as a rightful owner.

                    Amsterdam Museum also wants compensation for storage costs and legal costs from the party which the court will recognize as a rightful owner.
                    Fate of Crimean Treasures: Court battle over Scythian gold

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                    • Justice Minister: Ukrainians lodge 2,000 individual complaints against Russia with ECHR Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko has said that Ukrainian citizens have lodged more than 2,000 individual complaints against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a UNIAN correspondent reported. UNIAN 07 Oct 2016

                      The minister recalled that within the framework of the free legal aid system, it was decided to create a "big project that would help Ukrainian citizens to file individual complaints against the Russian aggressor."

                      "More than 2,000 individual complaints of Ukrainian citizens are now submitted to the European Court of Human Rights. We will continue to provide them with legal assistance in each of these cases in order to record in each small case a great violation of human rights by the Russian Federation and personally by the man, who is guilty of these crimes – Russian President Vladimir Putin," Petrenko said this during a Q&A session by the government in parliament.

                      Justice Minister: Ukrainians lodge 2,000 individual complaints against Russia with ECHR

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                      • The Morning Vertical Blog Brian Whitmore October 7, 2016
                        RADIO FREE EUROPE

                        ON MY MIND

                        They've been gunned down in their stairwells. They've been shot dead on Moscow streets. And one was even poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in the heart of London. Political assassinations have become a regular feature of post-Soviet Russia -- from television anchor Vladislav Listyev back in 1995 to Boris Nemtsov in 2015.

                        And today marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most shocking, the 2006 killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

                        On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, co-host Mark Galeotti and I take a closer look at the phenomenon of political assassinations in Russia.
                        What accounts for the proliferation of assassinations over the past two decades? Are they localized acts of violence? Or is there a method to the madness?

                        Tune in later today!

                        IN THE NEWS

                        A Russia Defense Ministry spokesman suggested that Russian antiaircraft systems may shoot down U.S. or U.S.-led coalition aircraft if they attack Syrian forces.

                        Finland's Defense Ministry says it suspects a Russian warplane has violated Finnish airspace, forcing Finland to scramble military jets to identify the Su-27 fighter flying over the Baltic Sea.

                        Russian security officials say a member of the Islamic State and five other militants have been killed in two counterterrorism operations in the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia.

                        The World Anti-Doping Agency says Russian hackers tampered with some of the drug profiles they leaked in a bid to embarrass dozens of star Olympic athletes.

                        A U.S. citizen and two Russian nationals were arrested for allegedly exporting sensitive military technology from the United States to Russia, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

                        New York City police are looking for whoever draped a gigantic banner portraying Russian President Vladimir Putin over the side of the Manhattan Bridge. The Morning Vertical, October 7, 2016

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                        • 14:17 07.10.2016 INTERFAX - UKRAINE
                          Rada passes at first reading 12-year secondary school education bill

                          Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada intends to introduce 12-year secondary school education, set the minimum wage of teachers at UAH 4,400 and introduce the institute of educational ombudsman. A total of 277 lawmakers passed bill No. 3491d.

                          According to the document, full secondary education will last for 12 years and consist of four-year elementary education, five-year basic secondary education in preparatory schools and three-year profile secondary education in vocational schools. Children can go to school at six or seven.

                          When students finish each of educational levels they pass tests in the form of external independent tests, including for elementary school students for monitoring them.

                          Profile secondary education (senior school) can be of two types: general education and vocational education.

                          Students will start the 12-year education on September 1, 2018 for elementary schools, on September 1, 2022 for basic secondary schools and on September 1, 2018 for profile secondary schools.

                          It is proposed that the minimum wage for teachers is set at the level of three minimum wages (at present UAH 4,350).

                          The bill envisages the introduction of the ombudsman post to ensure the proper conditions for the implementation of rights to get education. The ombudsman is appointed by Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers for five years without the right to be repeatedly elected.

                          The document foresees the possibility of organizing public private partnership in the education sphere on the basis of agreements. It can foresee joint financing of educational institutions.

                          Voluntary certification of teachers is foreseen. The qualification certificates will be issued for five years. Teachers with the certificates would receive 20% more until the certificate expires.

                          The bill proposes to assign funds from the national budget, local budgets and sources not banned by Ukrainian law in the amount of 7% of GDP.
                          The document foresees the possibility of organizing public private partnership in the education sphere on the basis of agreements. It can foresee joint financing of educational institutions. Rada passes at first reading 12-year secondary school education bill

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                          • 14:22 07.10.2016 INTERFAX - UKRAINE
                            Corruption continues to destabilize judicial system in Ukraine - Buquicchio

                            Corruption remains a destabilizing factor for the judicial system in Ukraine, Head of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) Gianni Buquicchio has said.

                            "Corruption remains a destabilizing factor for the judiciary. In practice, we distinguish between political and ordinary corruption. Political corruption seems to have been reduced from the Revolution times on the Maidan, and the usual corruption in the judiciary and other state institutions remain relevant in the agenda, and it must be really fought," Buquicchio said, speaking at the opening of the international conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in Kyiv on Friday.

                            Another problem, according to Buquicchio, is connected not only with corruption but also with a mere incompetence - "insufficient grounds specified in the definitions of the court." According to him, there is no a single case when this kind of decisions were taken at the higher courts.

                            "The essence of the judiciary is to justify a judicial decision," he said. In this context, the head of the Venice Commission stressed that one of the main elements of the judicial reform should be a rule that such judge has no place in a reformed judicial system.
                            Corruption continues to destabilize judicial system in Ukraine - Buquicchio

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                            • Former head of the LPR parliament was arrested in Rostov
                              UAWIRE ORG October 7, 2016 6:25:00 AM

                              Aleksey Karyakin, who formerly held the position of the head of the parliament in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), has been detained in Russia, the Zerkalo Nedeli news portal reported, citing an informed source.

                              “Karyakin was arrested three days ago in Rostov by the Russian Federal Security Service [FSB]. After that, the Russian media wrote that he recanted ‘Novorossiya’ and surrendered to Ukraine,” the source said.

                              The source did not rule out the possibility that the FSB could use Karyakin in some kind of special operation to discredit Ukraine.

                              “We do not rule out the possibility that this is a special operation. Though, above all, it is aimed at mopping-up the Luhansk ‘elite,’ exactly like what happened with the ‘head of government’ who suddenly hung himself. However, it is possible that the aim of the special operation may be to discredit Ukraine and Karyakin, for example, could be found dead, possibly on Ukrainian territory,” the source explained.

                              In September the prosecutor’s office of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic issued a warrant for the arrest of Aleksey Karyakin, who had been the head of the People’s Council of the LPR until March 25, 2016.
                              UAWire - Former head of the LPR parliament was arrested in Rostov

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                              • REUTERS Fri Oct 7, 2016 | 7:16am EDT
                                Scott Malone and Gabriel Stargardter | ORLANDO, Fla./MIAMI
                                Hurricane Matthew batters Florida as Haiti death toll rises

                                The first major hurricane threatening a direct hit on the United States in more than 10 years lashed Florida on Friday with heavy rains and winds after killing at least 339 people in Haiti on its destructive march north through the Caribbean.

                                Hurricane Matthew packed gusts of 100 miles per hour (160 kph) as it tracked north-northwest along Florida's east coast, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. The storm's eye was 25 miles (40 km) east of Cape Canaveral, home to the nation’s chief space launch site.

                                "We are seriously ground zero here in Cape Canaveral -- hunkered down, lights flickering, winds are crazy," said resident Sandy Wilk on Twitter.

                                The storm downed power lines and trees and destroyed billboards in Cape Canaveral, reported Jeff Piotrowski, a 40-year-old storm chaser from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

                                "The winds are ferocious right now," he said. "It’s fierce."

                                NASA and the U.S. Air Force, which operate the Cape Canaveral launch site, took steps to safeguard personnel and equipment. A team of 116 employees was bunkered down inside Kennedy Space Center's Launch Control Center to ride out the hurricane.

                                "We've had some close calls, but as far as I know it's the first time we've had the threat of a direct hit," NASA spokesman George Diller said by email from the hurricane bunker.

                                No significant damage or injuries were reported in West Palm Beach and other communities in south Florida where the storm downed trees and power lines earlier in the night, CNN and local media reported.

                                About 300,000 Florida households were without power, local media reported. In West Palm Beach, street lights and houses went dark and Interstate 95 was empty as the storm rolled through the community of 100,000 people.

                                Hurricane Matthew was carrying extremely dangerous winds of 120 mph (195 kph) on Friday, but is expected to gradually weaken during the next 48 hours, the hurricane center said.

                                Matthew's winds had dropped on Thursday night and into Friday morning, downgrading it to a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. It could either plow inland or tear along the Atlantic coast through Friday night, the Miami-based center said.

                                Few storms with winds as powerful as Matthew's have struck Florida, and the NHC warned of "potentially disastrous impacts." The U.S. National Weather Service said the storm could be the most powerful to strike northeast Florida in 118 years.

                                A dangerous storm surge was expected to reach up to 11 feet (3.35 meters) along the Florida coast, Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the Miami-based NHC, said on CNN.

                                "What we know is that most of the lives lost in hurricanes is due to storm surge," he said.

                                Some 339 people were killed in Haiti, local officials said, and thousands were displaced after the storm flattened homes, uprooted trees and inundated neighborhoods earlier in the week. Four people were killed in the Dominican Republic, which neighbors Haiti.

                                Damage and potential casualties in the Bahamas were still unclear as the storm passed near the capital, Nassau, on Thursday and then out over the western end of Grand Bahama Island.

                                It was too soon to predict where Matthew might do the most damage in the United States, but the NHC's hurricane warning extended up the Atlantic coast from southern Florida through Georgia and into South Carolina. More than 12 million people in the United States were under hurricane watches and warnings, according to the Weather Channel.

                                The last major hurricane, classified as a storm bearing sustained winds of more than 110 mph (177 kph), to make landfall on U.S. shores was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

                                Jeff Masters, a veteran hurricane expert, said on his Weather Underground website ( that Matthew's wind threat was especially serious at Cape Canaveral, which juts into the Atlantic off central Florida.

                                "If Matthew does make landfall along the Florida coast, this would be the most likely spot for it. Billions of dollars of facilities and equipment are at risk at Kennedy Space Center and nearby bases, which have never before experienced a major hurricane," Masters wrote.

                                'AS SERIOUS AS IT GETS'

                                Roads in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina were jammed, and gas stations and food stores ran out of supplies as the storm approached early on Thursday.

                                Governor Rick Scott warned there could be "catastrophic" damage if Matthew slammed directly into the state and urged some 1.5 million people there to evacuate.

                                Scott, who activated several thousand National Guard troops to help deal with the storm, warned that millions of people were likely to be left without power.

                                Florida, Georgia and South Carolina opened shelters for evacuees. As of Thursday morning, more than 3,000 people were being housed in 60 shelters in Florida, Scott said.

                                Those three states as well as North Carolina declared states of emergency, empowering their governors to mobilize the National Guard.

                                President Barack Obama called the governors of the four states on Thursday to discuss preparations for the storm. He declared a state of emergency in Florida and South Carolina, a move that authorized federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Late Thursday, Obama declared an emergency in Georgia and ordered federal aid to the state.

                                "Hurricane Matthew is as serious as it gets. Listen to local officials, prepare, take care of each other," Obama warned people in the path of the storm in a posting on Twitter.

                                Hundreds of passenger flights were canceled in south Florida, and cancellations were expected to spread north in coming days along the storm's path, airlines including American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines [UALCO.UL] said.
                                Hurricane Matthew batters Florida as Haiti death toll rises | Reuters

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