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  • Russia’s national insurance fund lacks $7.9 billion to pay country’s doctors
    MEDUZA Vedomosti 07:21, 14 october 2016

    The budget of Russia's Obligatory Medical Insurance Fund is about 500 billion rubles (approximately $7.9 billion) short to increase the salaries of the country's health workers to the level stipulated in Vladimir Putin's May decrees of 2012, reported newspaper Vedomosti on Friday.

    The country plans to readjust the salaries of its doctors for inflation by 71 billion rubles (approximately $1.1 billion) in 2017, 196.6 billion rubles (approximately $3.2 billion) in 2018, and 219.5 billion rubles (approximately $ 3.5 billion) in 2019.

    The Fund in question, wrote Vedomosti, is the only national fund with a yet unbalanced budget. Several options are being considered as sources of funding, the newspaper reported, though the most likely will be Russia's federal budget.
    --Putin's 2012 May decrees stipulated that in 2017 the salary of doctors should reach 180 percent of the average in their respective regions.
    --Compulsory health insurance contributions 5.1 percent to doctors' total salaries.
    --In recent years, there have been numerous reports that the government was considering introducing obligatory contributions for health insurance from Russia's unemployed citizens. Corresponding bills have been brought before the Duma, but, so far, none have received government backing.
    https://meduza.io/en/news/2016/10/14...ntry-s-doctors

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    • Pensioner from Chuvashia sentenced to two years probation for making online post
      MEDUZA Interfax 07:35, 14 october 2016

      A court in Chuvashia has sentenced local pensioner Nikolai Egorov to two years probation for sharing an online post that has been ruled "extremist".

      The sixty-three-year-old, a guard at an asphalt plant, has been found guilty of inciting ethnic hatred.

      The prosecution requested that the pensioner be sentenced to 360 hours of compulsory labor, but the defense insisted that the defendant be acquitted.

      According to investigators, Egorov posted an open letter to journalist Boris Stomakhin on his page on social network VKontakte on May 8, 2014. The letter had previously been recognized as extremist material.

      Egorov, said his lawyer Evgeny Gubin, insists that he had not made any such posts and has limited knowledge of the workings of the Internet.

      "We do not agree with the court's decision and ... will appeal it," Gubin said. https://meduza.io/en/news/2016/10/14...ng-online-post

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      • Kadyrov requests attacker of Emelianenko’s daughter be found at any price
        Chechen Government
        05:33, 14 october 2016

        Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has requested that the perpetrators of the attack on the daughter of Russian mixed martial arts fighter Fedor Emelianenko be found at any price and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

        "He should be judged not only for beating the girl, but also for his provocative actions clearly aimed at stirring up ethnic hatred," said Kadyrov, according to whom the attacker's objective was "to cause a public outcry."

        "If the girl was hit, this was done deliberately with the knowledge of whose daughter she was," said Kadyrov, adding that Chechen authorities are ready to assist in the investigation.

        On Thursday, Fedor Emelianenko's representative Julia Kuklina confirmed that the athlete's daughter, sixteen-year-old Maria Emelianenko, had been attacked in Moscow. A man hit her in the chest in the center of Moscow.

        The attack occurred shortly after Fedor Emelianenko engaged in a public debate with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and his entourage. The conflict between the Kadyrov and Emelianenko arose when the latter criticized a mixed martial arts tournament for children that took place in Grozny, Chechnya on Tuesday. Emelianenko was angered by the fact that children were fighting without protective equipment. As a result, many of Kadyrov's supporters, including Chechen athletes and Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov, sharply criticized Emelianenko, some even calling him a "rooster" and a "jester".

        According to Kuklina, Emelianenko's daughter is now recovering.
        https://meduza.io/en/news/2016/10/14...d-at-any-price

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        • Perm official denies that students were expelled over cancer diagnoses
          meduza.io
          12:37, 13 october 2016

          Pavel Mikov, Russia's Children's Right Commissioner for the Perm Region, denied reports on Wednesday that a child had been expelled from a local school due to her cancer diagnosis.

          "No one expelled the girl from the school. The only [termination document signed] was that [signaling] her successful completion of nine grades and receiving a basic, general education," said Mikov in an interview with Meduza in response to the student's complaint. Such documents, he said, are available to all students who successfully complete ninth grade.

          After the end of ninth grade, students' parents must either apply for their children to continue their studies at the school in question or transfer their children to another school, said the commissioner.

          "The girl did not write a statement about transitioning to the tenth grade at this school [and so] she moved to another educational institution," Mikov said.

          The Commissioner said that the student approached him personally with a complaint about having been expelled from school. The mother of the child was unaware of this development. According to Mikov, the act would have been a "psycho-emotional reaction caused by difficulties in adapting to a new group of people."

          According Mikov, he spoke with the head of charity fund Bereginya, which helps children with cancer. "She too is shocked; this information came as a surprise to her ... I, frankly, cannot not trust a nongovernmental organization," said the commissioner.

          Mikov has no information about the expulsion of another student undergoing treatment for cancer either.

          A child can be expelled from the school, said Mikov, only with the approval of the commission on Juvenile Affairs and Rights. The grammar school had made no petitions in regards to either of the students in question, he said.
          News source Tchaikovsky News reported on the girls' expulsion on Tuesday. The publication wrote that the school director Marina Rusinova had demanded that the two students, who had missed significant part of the previous academic year due to undergoing cancer treatment, but who were, nevertheless, home-schooled, leave the school. In an interview with local media, Rusinova called these allegations a lie. https://meduza.io/en/news/2016/10/13...ncer-diagnoses

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          • UT UKRAINE TODAY Oct. 16, 2016
            Internationally known Ukrainian astronomer Klim Churyumov dies at the age of 80

            His scientific legacy for the world: two comets discovered and named after him

            On October 15, the world-famous Ukrainian scientist, astronomer, head of the Kyiv Planetarium and member of Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences Klim Churyumov died at the age of 80 while traveling to Kharkiv.

            He is highly recognized in the scientific circles for discovering two comets – Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Churyumov-Solodovnikov.

            The first one was discovered back in 1969. Later, the scientist took part in designing the "Rosetta" mission for the comet's further investigation. For 10 years, the spacecraft had been chasing the comet and traveled 6 billion kilometers. In 2014, it approached the space body and sent down a probe "Philae" to successfully land on the comet for the first time in human history.

            However, its results will be under thorough study for the next decade.
            World-famous astronomer Klim Churyumov dies at the age of 80: Internationally known Ukrainian astronomer Klim Churyumov dies at the age of 80

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            • “Putin offers new lies for old” and other neglected Russian stories
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/10/16

              The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore.

              Consequently, Windows on Eurasia presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 53rd such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, once again, one could have put out such a listing every day — but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.

              1. Putin Offers New Lies for Old. Many in the West were so excited by Vladimir Putin’s acknowledgement at long last that he sent Russian troops into Ukraine, something he and his regime have long denied, that they failed to notice that his admission included another lie, that the Ukrainians made him do it by mistreating Russians. This pattern has become so common – Putin is now doing the same thing in Syria – that perhaps it should be given the name of “the Putin perplex,” because it achieves exactly what he wants, sowing confusion among his opponents.
              2. Is Putin Choosing a Hot War Because He Can’t Afford a Cold One? Wars, hot or cold, are expensive, and leaders enter them at great risk to themselves if they lack the resources to carry them out. According to some analysts, Putin doesn’t have the resources for a cold war and so may be considering a hot one where he still has nuclear weapons. He and his government have lost support from the population. He is internationally isolated – only six of 252 world leaders sent him birthday greetings. His government has been forced to cut back in subsidizing the media that deliver his propaganda. And he may have decided that promoting the notion of a hot war is his least bad alternative. But as others have pointed out, he doesn’t have the resources for a hot war either.
              3. Some Russians Want Putin to Rule Forever – and He’s Trying to Arrange That. A group of Russian nationalist activists has called for the Russian constitution to be changed so that Vladimir Putin will remain president for life. For his part, Putin seems to be doing what he can to arrange that, criminalizing any criticism of his rule, planning to put a million Russians under government surveillance, and promoting both Stalinist music and the Soviet flag.
              4. 14 Million Russians Drop Out of Middle Class as a Result of Current Crisis. Because of the current crisis caused by the collapse in oil prices and the imposition of sanctions as a result of Putin’s aggression, 14 million Russians who had been members of the middle class have now fallen into poverty. The problem for the population is even wider than that: according to new data, 40 percent of all Russians saw their standard of living decline over the past three months alone. A quarter of all Russians no cannot pay their utility bills, and more than 600,000 are at risk of personal bankruptcy. Adding insult to injury, Moscow is not promising any real improvement for at least three years, and an increasing number of Russians have concluded that the Kremlin is ignoring the problems that they face.
              5. Doctors Tell Russians: ‘If You’re Sick, Go to Church and Light a Candle.’ Medicines and medical care are in increasingly short supply – and the government has cut spending on health care by 33 percent for next year – that some Russian doctors are now telling their patients that if they get sick, they shouldn’t turn to the medical profession but rather go to church and light a candle. Meanwhile, officials reported this week that as many as 40 percent of the medicines being used in Moscow are fake or adulterated and do not work as intended, that Russians have no legal protection against medical testing that may harm their lives, and that Russia’s burgeoning prison population is now a breeding ground for many serious illnesses. This week, Moscow declared a group fighting HIV/AIDS a foreign agent but it did allow the importation of western condoms again. One sector where the authorities seem to be spending more is on punitive psychiatry because it is useful to the powers that be in their struggle with political opponents.
              6. Russian Force Structures in North Caucasus Said Inflating Number of Militants to Justify Bigger Budgets for Themselves. Experts says that the siloviki have taken to inflating the number of militants they face in order to justify bigger budgets for their own institutions. There is evidence that the Daghestani authorities are assisting in this process. All this is part of an even larger problem. While the Russian authorities say that inter-ethnic relations in Russia have been improving, they report more convictions for extremist crimes, the result of new laws and administrative and political needs.
              7. Fights over Memorials Increasingly Divisive. Russians have often fought their political battles by talking about the past rather than the present. Now, they are fighting about the future by engaging in conflicts over the statues and memorials that they want in their cities. Today the statue of Ivan the Terrible went up in Oryol even as officials in St. Petersburg took down the memorial to Marshal Mannerheim and moved it to a museum in Tsarskoye selo. Russian commentators denounced Mannerheim as “a white guard” even as some of them praised Ivan the Terrible as “the most humane leader of the Europe of his times.” Meanwhile, a statue to the Tsarevich Aleksey who was murdered by the Bolsheviks has gone up in Yalta, and an effigy of Alexander Solzhenitsyn has been “hanged” in front of the GULAG museum in Moscow. The statue wars are not only setting one group of Russians against another but dividing ethnic Russians from non-Russians, with cases of statues in memory of non-Russian heroes being vandalized, and some non-Russians demanding statues of their national heroes given that the Russians seem to be able to put up almost anyone they want.
              8. Emigration Poses Double Threat to Moscow. Emigration from Russia is not only much greater than Moscow admits, but it contains a double threat to the country, Russian commentators say. The brain drain it represents undermines the ability of the country to develop in the future and the current emigration may come to play the same role the Russian emigration did at the end of the tsarist period and help mobilize Russians at home against the Kremlin.
              9. Trump’s Remarks about Women Said Viewed by Many Russians as ‘Normal.’ While an overwhelming majority of Americans have expressed shock and anger about Donald Trump’s remarks about how he thinks women should be treated, most Russians accept the words of Republican candidate for US president as entirely normal, at least judging by their own experience in Russia, one commentator says. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s reference to Trump’s words will do nothing to change their view nor will the discovery that the Russian annexation brought Ukrainian city of Sevastopol numerous advertisements for bordellos.
              10. Two Plus Two Doesn’t Equal Four in Russian Schools Anymore. Parents of pupils in one school have discovered that the correct answer to a mathematics problem their children were asked to solve was not the one the teachers wanted because it was not “patriotic” enough, yet another indication of the increasingly Orwellian world of Putin’s Russia. Commentators are also upset that some school textbooks still fail to show Russia’s politically “correct” borders in Crimea and elsewhere.
              11. Nannies Replacing Grandmothers as Childcare Providers, Breaking Cultural Transmission Belt. In some Russian families, mothers are turning to nannies rather than grandmothers for childcare, a shift that disrupts the transmission of cultural values from one generation to another, according to a new study.
              12. Russian Post Office Puts Up Sign in Braille – and Then Covers It with Plate Glass. A Russian post office has tried to become more user friendly for its blind customers by putting up a sign in Braille, but then, in an exemplar of the problem Viktor Chernomyrdin highlighted years ago, it has vitiated the utility of this sign by covering it with plate glass so that the blind cannot read it.
              13. Photo of Drunk Siberian Family Goes Viral. A picture of a family in Siberia lying drunk amidst piles of trash has gone viral on the Runet. Those photographed say they did nothing wrong – they weren’t shown drinking or having sex in public – and therefore no one should be offended or even taking notice of their activities.
              http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...cba3859d11.png
              In an image recorded back in 2013, Google photographed a family of three in Russian city of Novoaltaysk, collapsed outside in a heap of garbage and lawn furniture. In the picture, bottles and grocery bags are strewn about the yard, and two of the people are piled on top of each other. (Image: Google via The Moscow Times)
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              • Part 2

                And six more from countries around the Russian Federation:

                1. Dalai Lama Condemns Russian Aggression in Ukraine. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists has now condemned Moscow’s actions in Ukraine as aggression, thus putting him ahead of some Western leaders who contort their language in order to avoid calling those actions by their proper name.
                2. Is Kyiv about to Get Creative on CIS Exit and Citizenship? One Ukrainian analyst has suggested that Ukraine should not simply leave the CIS but work to organize an anti-Moscow alliance of post-Soviet states, and another has suggested that Ukraine should follow the model of the Baltic countries and have both citizens and non-citizens among its population especially if Moscow’s agents in the Donbas continue to hand out passports to people under its control.
                3. Border Dispute between Belarus and Ukraine Heating Up. Belarus and Ukraine have not yet resolved all the issues involved in the demarcation of their border, thus opening the possibility that the issue can be trotted out when needed to make a broader political point.
                4. Belarusian Foreign Minister Says Greatest Threat to Minsk Not NATO but Dependence on Moscow. Speaking in Poland, Minsk’s top diplomat said that the greatest threat his country now faces comes not from NATO but rather from continuing to be too dependent on Moscow and thus constrained in its actions.
                5. Tashkent Mosque Named for Late Uzbek Leader. There is now an Islam Karimov Mosque in the Uzbek capital, just one more sign of the personality cult that continues and is being promoted by his successors as a way of building their own authority.
                6. Bishkek Insists on Censoring Film about 1916 to Avoid Offending Russia. The Kyrgyzstan government has demanded that independent film makers drop several scenes in their movie about the 1916 rising in Central Asia against Russia lest they offend the current Russian government. "Putin offers new lies for old" and other neglected Russian stories | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                • Donbas warlord Motorola killed in Donetsk
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/10/17

                  Arsen Pavlov, one of the commanders of the Russian-backed separatists in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DNR”), known under the nom de guerre Motorola, has been killed in Donbas. Denis Pushilin, Chairman of the “DNR” Parliament confirmed this news to the separatists’ news resource dan-news.info.

                  According to Interfax, who received a confirmation of this news in the “DNR” Ministry of Defence, he was killed by an explosion in the elevator of his house, which was detonated remotely. The Ministry suspects a Ukrainian diversion group in the assassination, Interfax reported.

                  23:42 According to Aleksandr Kots, correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda in Donetsk, Pavlov’s bodyguard was also killed in the elevator.

                  0:16 In a video, “DNR” Head Aleksandr Zakharchenko says Motorola’s death is a ceasefire breach by Ukraine, saying that “Poroshenko declared war on us, now just wait,” and promising retaliation to Ukrainian soldiers, SBU operatives and their families.

                  --Arsen Pavlov was the commander of the Sparta brigade, which took part in the battles for Ilovaisk and the Donetsk airport.
                  --Motorola and his battalion are accused of executing and torturing captured Ukrainian soldiers. He has confirmed executing 15 POWs to journalists of the Kyiv Post (see video).
                  --Motorola was rumored to have been killed a number of times: January 2015, February 2015, March 2015, August 2016. However, this is the first time that his death is confirmed by the separatists’ official figures.
                  --In June 2016, Zakharchenko told that an assassination attempt that took place near the traumatological center in Donetsk was an assassination attempt on Motorola.
                  --Pavlov, born in the Russian city of Ukhta, took part in the second Chechen war. He is included in the EU’s sanction list, however, Ukraine had hoped to have him be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
                  --On January 2015, Aleksandr Bednov, commander of the Batman militia group, was killed in the self-proclaimed neighboring “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LNR”). On 23 May of that year, Aleksei Mozgovoi, commander of the Prizrak battalion, was assassinated. Their deaths were linked to a refusal to obey the “authorities” of the “LNR.”
                  --In September 2016, “LNR” Head Leonid Plotnitsky told of an alleged military coup, which was followed by the purge of chieftains of this Russian-backed breakaway statelet. The founder of the Oplot milia group Leonid Zhilin, who reportedly had tense relations with the “LNR” and “DNR” leadership, was one of those killed. Donbas warlord Motorola killed in Donetsk -Euromaidan Press |

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                  • Putin Throws Out the Old Nuclear Rules, Rattling Washington - Washington and Moscow used to keep arms control separate from other crises around the world. But that era is over and the next president will have to decide how to deal with it.
                    FP Dan De Luce, Reid Standish Oct 16, 2016

                    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling and military brinksmanship have upended the rules that long governed relations between Moscow and Washington, presenting the United States with a dangerous dilemma.

                    The next U.S. president will inherit an increasingly fraught relationship with Russia in which Washington’s attempts to deter Putin have mostly failed. Moscow’s decision this month to pull out of a landmark agreement on disposing tons of weapons-grade plutonium, coupled with reports last week that Russia deployed new nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, underscore how Putin is flexing Russia’s power in new and often unpredictable ways.

                    U.S. and European officials are increasingly alarmed over Putin’s willingness to risk military confrontation and threaten to use his country’s nuclear arsenal over issues the West sees as unrelated and separate. That makes it devilishly difficult for the United States and its European allies to find an effective response to Putin’s audacious tactics that in recent years range from Russia’s annexation of Crimea, to its air war in support of the Syrian regime, to Moscow’s suspected hacking of America’s presidential election.

                    “It very much feels like we are entering a very troubled and dangerous phase in this bilateral relationship,“ said Julianne Smith, a former senior Pentagon official who oversaw NATO policy and a former senior advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. “The next president will face some big strategic choices,” said Smith, who now advises Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Europe and Russia.

                    President Barack Obama’s successor will have to choose from a range of unpleasant and risky options when it comes to handling a resurgent Russia, current and former officials said. A more conciliatory stance, aimed at cutting a grand bargain with Russia focused on Ukraine, would defuse tensions in the short term but at the cost of ultimately emboldening Putin. A more hawkish line — like the one championed by Clinton, who is leading nationwide polls — would risk escalation, with the chance of a military showdown in Syria or the Baltics.

                    Following the failure of the Obama administration’s bid to “reset” policy with the Kremlin and capped by Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012, Russia has increasingly insisted on linking disparate issues, refusing to cooperate even on areas of common interest in order to pressure Washington on other disputes. That’s the opposite of how things worked in the era of superpower detente in the 1970s, when both countries obeyed clear boundaries and unwritten rules. Decisions on nuclear weapons, in particular, were kept apart from other issues and disputes around the globe.

                    The Kremlin jettisoned that approach after its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its intervention in Syria in 2015, marking a definitive departure for Moscow and Washington, which had managed to wall off areas of disagreement from arms control cooperation.

                    In the Kremlin’s decree this month declaring Russia would no longer cooperate with the United States on a 2009 agreement to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium, Moscow said it would consider reviving the agreement only if the United States scaled back its military presence near Russia’s border, lifted all sanctions against Russia, and paid Moscow compensation for the economic losses caused by the sanctions.

                    U.S. officials said they were disappointed by Moscow’s decision and dismayed at what they consider a worrisome pattern of behavior.

                    The reports of the Iskander missile deployment to the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad “represent the latest in a series of announcements and actions from Russia that call into question Russia’s commitment to minimizing the world’s most dangerous nuclear materials, and undermine the long path toward disarmament,” a senior administration official told Foreign Policy.

                    Russia in recent years has adopted a more aggressive doctrine on nuclear weapons, expanding the scenarios in which the arsenal could be used and employing threatening language when referring to its nuclear force. While running for election in 2012, Putin elevated the role of nuclear weapons in Russia’s strategic doctrine in an op-ed for the state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, even implying that they could be used in a conventional war. After taking office again as president, Putin announced a plan to modernize all three legs of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.

                    In March, Putin said he had been ready to place nuclear forces on alert over the fate of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. Asked if Russia was prepared to bring its nuclear weapons into the conflict, Putin told state television: “We were ready to do it. I talked with colleagues and told them that this (Crimea) is our historic territory. Russian people live there, they are in danger, we cannot leave them.”

                    The United States says Russia has flouted a 1987 arms control treaty, negotiated by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which called for the elimination of all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty helped bring an end to the Cold War and served as a crucial foundation for arms control efforts.

                    After signing the New START arms control accord in 2010, Russia has rebuffed overtures from Obama during the past six years to negotiate further reductions in nuclear weapons. The treaty expires in 2021, and without a new deal, the gains in arms control over the last 25 years would be endangered. Putin’s government also has backed away from mutual efforts launched in the 1990s to secure nuclear material. In March, Russia declined to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

                    Moscow is coupling that harsher atomic rhetoric with an increasingly aggressive maneuvering of its conventional forces. Russia has repeatedly sent its fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers to skirt the boundaries of NATO and U.S. airspace since the Ukraine crisis and buzzed American planes and warships at close range. Russian planes have also routinely breached the airspace of non-NATO countries such as Finland and Sweden that joined the European Union’s sanctions against Moscow. In March 2015, Russia’s ambassador in Copenhagen said Danish warships would be “targets for Russian nuclear missiles” if they installed advanced radar equipment.

                    While the United States and NATO allies portray Russia as a provocative actor on the world stage, Moscow accuses the United States of fomenting “coups” in its backyard by supporting pro-democracy movements and destabilizing the nuclear balance with missile defense weaponry.

                    The United States for its part, withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. Russian officials have called the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems in Eastern Europe provocative and blamed the weaponry for derailing arms control talks.

                    Moscow has accused NATO and the United States of behaving recklessly, citing the deployment of more U.S. tanks and troops to NATO states bordering Russia and the use of B-2 bombers in drills close to the Russian border.

                    Searching for a way to manage relations, the Obama administration has opted to steer a middle course between confrontation and compromise, arguing that deterring Russia requires strategic patience. Economic sanctions, not arms, were the weapon of choice after the Ukraine invasion and Crimean annexation, for example. But sanctions, which have divided Europe and carry a cost, haven’t pushed out Russia’s “little green men” or restored Crimea to Ukraine.

                    “We have to come up with a coherent policy on Russia,” one Western diplomat said.
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                    • Putin Rattling Washington Part 2

                      Against the sharp deterioration in U.S.-Russian relations, finding a new way to moderate mounting tensions between the two countries will be left to the next U.S. administration. In Syria, Russia’s deployment of fighter aircraft squadrons and artillery in 2015 blindsided the Obama administration, and has succeeded in shifting the tide of the war in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The intervention has enabled Russia to set the agenda in Syria, reducing Washington’s influence and drastically limiting U.S. options for any military action.

                      When lawmakers last month asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, about the possibility of the United States setting up a no-fly zone in Syria, he said it “would require us to go to war with Syria and Russia.”

                      Throughout her campaign, Clinton has repeatedly called for a no-fly or “safe zone” for Syrian civilians, without providing a detailed explanation as to what that would entail. But her advisors have suggested that it could involve the United States shooting down Syrian aircraft, forcing Russia to choose between defending Assad or working with Washington. In discussing the no-fly-zone idea, Clinton has not acknowledged the presence of an advanced Russian S-400 air defense system in Syria, which potentially could be used against U.S. aircraft enforcing a no-fly zone.

                      The Kremlin probably would view the prospect of a no-fly zone as a direct threat to its forces in Syria, particularly given how events unfolded in Libya when Clinton was secretary of state. In 2011, then-President Dmitry Medvedev had Russia abstain from a U.N. Security Council vote backing a no-fly zone in Libya. Clinton reportedly assured Moscow that the operation did not intend to bring about regime change in Libya and overthrow President Muammar al-Qaddafi. However, after NATO airpower allowed Libyan rebels to make gains on the ground and video emerged of Clinton joking, “We came, we saw, he died,” about the death of Qaddafi, the Kremlin believed it was deceived by the Americans. Experts say the intervention and Qaddafi’s death drove Putin to seek a return to the presidency.

                      In contrast with Clinton’s tough talk against Putin on the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has struck a friendly tone on Russia. His opponent has questioned his business ties to Russian investors and accused his aides of parroting Moscow’s propaganda. In a commentary published Thursday in the pro-Russian Sputnik website, Trump’s former foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, criticized the United States for “interference” in the domestic affairs of countries neighboring Russia, including Ukraine, and that Washington had shown a “complete disregard for Russia’s interests.” Trump has repeatedly called for closer cooperation with the Kremlin in combating the Islamic State in Syria, but otherwise has offered few specifics about how he would handle Russia. However, Trump’s campaign is imploding in the wake of sexual-assault allegations and Clinton is increasingly seen as the likely victor.

                      The Democratic nominee would bring her experience as secretary of state, four years that left her wary of Putin and skeptical that Moscow could be persuaded by diplomatic overtures or concessions. The Kremlin similarly views a Clinton presidency with apprehension over the hawkish policy positions she has outlined in Syria and Ukraine. But it remains unclear how far Clinton would be willing to go when it comes to asserting U.S. resolve and pushing back against Russia’s aggressive tactics, especially given Moscow’s willingness to link the conflicts to the wider issue of nuclear security.

                      Some of the current challenges carry echoes of the 1970s. Then, however, the two sides had a common understanding that circumscribed their competition. According to Henry Kissinger, the architect of detente under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, “a conception of strategic stability developed that the two countries could implement even as their rivalry continued in other areas.”

                      That “strategic stability” — and the equilibrium it brought — unraveled with the demise of the Soviet Union. Russia felt threatened and humiliated by the expansion of NATO and the European Union to Central and Eastern Europe. It also was outraged by U.S.-led military interventions in Serbia and later in Iraq — without full authorization from the U.N. Security Council.

                      Experts on Russia disagree about how to handle Putin, and no Western government appears to have a clear idea as to how the former KGB agent would respond to different attempts at deterrence, or in what direction he intends to lead his country.

                      “We can see the tactics he’s using, and how he’s inserting himself in various global crises,” Smith said. “We’re not sure how far he wants to take this.”
                      Putin Throws Out the Old Nuclear Rules, Rattling Washington | Foreign Policy

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                      • Kremlin: US comment on retaliatory cyber attacks against Russia are unprecedented
                        UAWIRE ORG October 16, 2016 11:19:24 AM

                        The Press Secretary for the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, said that Washington's threats to carry out cyber attacks on the Russian Federation are unprecedented. This was said in response to U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden’s remarks about responding to cyber-attacks on the Democratic Party, which allegedly Moscow is responsible for, at "the right time."

                        "We will take precautions. The unpredictability and aggressiveness of the United States is growing; such threats against Moscow and towards the leadership of our country are unprecedented, as the threat was vocalized by the U.S. Vice President himself. And, of course, in response to such an aggressive and unpredictable line, we have to take measures to protect our interests, somehow to hedge our risks," Peskov said.

                        Earlier, Putin's aide, Yuri Ushakov, noted that the Kremlin will not leave the information about the impending American cyber operation against Moscow, that was reported by NBC news, unanswered.

                        "It is already on the verge of rudeness," he added.

                        U.S. President Barack Obama's administration formally accused Russia of carrying out a large-scale campaign of intervention into the U.S. Presidential elections, including hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other politicians. Peskov called these accusations "nonsense."
                        UAWire - Kremlin: US comment on retaliatory cyber attacks against Russia are unprecedented

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                        • Poland to construct canal to the Baltic Sea to reduce dependence on Russia
                          UAWIRE ORG October 16, 2016 7:47:00 AM

                          Poland will build a canal through the Vistula Spit to the Gulf of Gdansk (Gdańsk Bay). This is expected to boost the importance of the seaport in Elblag and will in turn reduce the dependence on the transportation through Russian territory, as stated by the leader of the Law and Justice (PIS) ruling party, Jarosław Kaczyński, during his visit to the city of Elblag in the north east of Poland.

                          "The benefits of the canal will be great; not only in improved navigation, but also in returning the status of a port city to Elbag,” Kaczyński said. He noted that the construction of the canal will likely bring some "external resistance," but it will have nothing to do with the environmental issues.

                          "This is about the political and military interests of Poland, as well as the preservation of our status. Poland, during the time of the Polish People's Republic (under communist control) and in the years that followed, could not have built this canal and could not consider the possibility of shipping cargoes through it, because the Russians would not agree to it," the leader of PIS said.

                          According to Kaczyński, after the completion of the canal, Poland will become "fully independent" of Russia.

                          The canal through the Vistula Spit in the north east of Poland will cost 880 million zlotys (more than $230 million), and is planned to be completed by 2022. It is planned to be 1.3 km long and 5 m deep.

                          The canal will allow ships up to 100 m long, 20 m wide and 4 m deep to enter the sea port of Elblag. UAWire - Poland to construct canal to the Baltic Sea to reduce dependence on Russia

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                          • Let’s Get Putin’s Attention
                            NY TIMES Thomas L. Friedman OCT. 5, 2016

                            You may have missed this story, so I am repeating it as a public service:

                            MOSCOW, Special to The New York Times, Oct. 1 — A previously unheard-of group called Hackers for a Free Russia released a treasure trove of financial records online today indicating that President Vladimir Putin owns some $30 billion in property, hotels and factories across Russia and Europe, all disguised by front organizations and accounting charades.

                            The documents, which appear to be authentic, include detailed financial records and emails between Mr. Putin’s Kremlin office and a number of his Russian cronies and Swiss banks. They constitute the largest hack ever of Mr. Putin. Russian censors are scrambling to shut down Twitter inside the country and keep the emails out of Russian-language media.

                            At a news conference in Washington, C.I.A. Director John Brennan was asked if U.S. intelligence services had any hand in the cyberleak of what is being called “The Putin Files.” With a slight grin, Mr. Brennan said: “The U.S. government would never intervene in Russian politics, just as President Putin would never intervene in an American election. That would be wrong.” As Mr. Brennan left the podium, though, he burst out laughing.

                            No, you didn’t miss this story. I made it up. But isn’t it time there was such a story? Isn’t it time we gave Putin a dose of his own medicine — not for juvenile playground reasons and not to instigate a conflict but precisely to prevent one — to back Putin off from what is increasingly rogue behavior violating basic civilized norms and increasingly vital U.S. interests.

                            Putin “is at war with us, but we are not at war with him — both the U.S. and Germany are desperately trying to cling to a decent relationship,” remarked Josef Joffe, editor of Die Zeit, a weekly German newspaper and a leading strategic thinker in Europe. No one should want to start a shooting war between great powers “in the shadow of nuclear weapons,” Joffe told me.

                            But we also cannot just keep turning the other cheek. Putin’s behavior in Syria and Ukraine has entered the realm of war crimes, and his cyberattacks on the American political system threaten to undermine the legitimacy of our next election.

                            Just read the papers. Last week a Dutch-led investigation adduced irrefutable video evidence that Putin’s government not only trucked in the missile system used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane flying over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 civilians onboard, but also returned it to Russia the same night and then engaged in an elaborate cover-up.

                            On Sept. 19, what U.S. intelligence officials say was almost certainly a Russian Su-24 warplane bombed a U.N. convoy in Syria carrying relief supplies for civilians. The Red Cross said at least 20 people were killed. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the bombing “savage and apparently deliberate.”

                            For a long time, Putin’s excesses were just a tragedy for the Russian people and for many people in Ukraine and Syria, so President Obama could plausibly argue that the right response was economic sanctions and troop buildups in Eastern Europe. But in the last nine months, something has changed.

                            Putin’s relentless efforts to crush both the democratic and Islamist opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria; his rejection of any real power-sharing solution there; and his joining with Assad in mercilessly bombing civilians in Aleppo are not only horrific in and of themselves, but they also keep pushing more refugees into the European Union. This is fostering an anti-immigrant backlash in Europe that is spawning right-wing nationalist parties and fracturing the E.U.

                            Meanwhile, Russia’s hacking of America’s Democratic Party — and signs that Russian or other cyberwarriors have tried to break into American state voter registration systems — suggests that Putin or other cyberdisrupters are trying to undermine the legitimacy of our next national election.

                            Together, these actions pose a threat to the two pillars of global democracy and open markets — America and the E.U. — more than anything coming from ISIS or Al Qaeda.

                            “The Soviet Union was a revolutionary state that sought a wholesale change in the international order,” observed Robert Litwak, director of security studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of “Deterring Nuclear Terrorism.” Putin is ostensibly not seeking a revolution of the international order, Litwak added, but Putin’s departure from standard great-power competition — encouraging a flood of refugees and attacking the legitimacy of our political system — “is leading to shifts in global politics that could have revolutionary consequences, even if Putin is not motivated by revolutionary ideology.”

                            Obama believed that a combination of pressure and engagement would moderate Putin’s behavior. That is the right approach, in theory, but it’s now clear that we have underestimated the pressure needed to produce effective engagement, and we’re going to have to step it up. This is not just about the politics of Syria and Ukraine anymore. It’s now also about America, Europe, basic civilized norms and the integrity of our democratic institutions. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/op...ollection&_r=0

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                            • Russia Today bank accounts 'frozen in UK,'
                              THE TELEGRAPH 17 October 2016 • 11:55am

                              Britain has blocked Russian broadcaster RT's bank accounts, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said on Monday via social media.

                              "Our accounts have been blocked in Britain. All of our accounts. 'The decision cannot be appealed'. Long live freedom of speech!" Simonyan wrote.

                              She did not say why the accounts had been blocked.
                              Russia Today bank accounts 'frozen in UK,'*

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                              • Oct. 17, 2016 UT UKRAINE TODAY
                                Russian warlord murder: Putin's blood purge or Ukrainian revenge?

                                Analysts and officials discuss what the death of ‘Colonel Motorola' means

                                Yesterday's murder of one of the most infamous Russian militant leaders in Donbas remains one of the most discussable topics of the day. Officials on both sides made statements on the reasons and motives of the killing and blamed each other.

                                Arseny Pavlov was killed on October 16, 2016 in an explosion of a buildings elevator. So-called ‘Prime Minister' of Russian puppet state ‘Donetsk People's Republic' Alexander Zakharchenko declared the killing ‘a violation of the ceasefire' in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and ‘a declaration of war' by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko himself. The leader of the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk People's Republic' Igor Plotnytsky also blamed Kyiv speculated on renewing the war, UNIAN reports.

                                Ukrainian sources in Security Service and Interior Ministry approved the information, but connected with internal purges inside occupational administration of Donbas.

                                According to ‘Information Resistance' analytical group the liquidation of Pavlov has become a cause of conflict between the chiefs of militant ‘security services' – "MGB" and "MVD" (State Security and Interior ‘Ministries').

                                "At an emergency meeting of the heads of "DPR security agencies" senior representatives of "MGB" reminded of their recent warnings about the presence of a "number of professionally trained Ukrainian sabotage groups" in Donetsk, blaming MVD failed to take exhaustive measures to neutralize them. In turn, chiefs of "MVD" accused "MGB" in passiveness, saying that the search and neutralization of saboteurs is not within the competence of "law enforcement", and proposed to dismiss the heads of "intelligence" and "anti-terrorist units" of the "MGB," analysts report.

                                At the same time even militants don't believe that Pavlov was killed by Ukrainians, "pointing out that in the case of such operation it would be done in simpler way that would not require penetration into the protected building and mining the elevator.

                                "Rumors are spreading that elimination of ‘Motorola' was commenced by certain "special group of FSB of the Russian Federation," analysts adds.

                                Among other versions militants talk about showdown caused by repartition of ‘business' – Pavlov's ‘Sparta' battalion controls the remnants of Donetsk airport, where they cut and sell metal scrap. Some point on possible role of Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the pro-Russian ‘Vostok' Battalion and defected Ukrainian special forces officer, and talk about the ‘betrayal' and ‘secret deal' between Moscow and Kyiv. Anyway militants share the thought that this assasination is not the last one and are afraid of a possible Ukrainian offensive.

                                Ukrainian analysts in turn warn about the possibility of Russian terrorist acts on Ukrainian soil given as the "revenge for ‘Motorola'". This prognosis was made by a military expert Oleh Zhdanov for Espresso.TV, UNIAN reports.

                                "In connection with the death of Motorola and the circumstances of his death, it is even possible to expect terrorist attacks by Russia. We are well aware that commandos there are exclusively Russian citizens, and if any counter-operations were to be held, it would be the Russian special services, not by the militants, behind them," Zhdanov said.

                                Ukrainian Defence Ministry speaker Colonel Andriy Lysenko called ‘Motorola' a ‘PR-militant', who was hated by other separatists and lucky to die.

                                "He has committed a series of war crimes, including the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian captive soldier, Donetsk airport defender, Hero of Ukraine Igor Branovytsky. Thus, only death saved Pavlov from the inevitable penalty of life imprisonment. He was just lucky," spokesman stressed.

                                As reported, Russia-controlled territories of Donbas are seeing the continuous blood purge of militant warlords and 'officials'. Month ago Russian army colonel Osipov became a victim of separatist showdown, and ex-Luhansk 'Prime Minister' was arrested by separatists, then allegedly 'committed suicide'. One more militant leader, Evgeniy Zhilin, was killed near Moscow. This case was the first example of killing the leaders of Kremlin-backed militants on Russian soil. Previous murders of top sepatatists, who became inconvenient for Moscow, took place in Donbas only, like it was in Aleksandr Bednov or Aleksey Mozgovoy cases. Ukrainian sources – among them media and volunteers – earlier informed about the involvement of the Russian mercenary "Wagner group" in those operations. Later Russian FSB openly intervened, arresting Luhansk separatists' "parliament speaker". Western analysts called militant bloody purge in Donbas 'a politics of a street gang'.
                                Donbas war: Russian warlord murder: Putin's blood purge or Ukrainian revenge?

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