Tag Archives: russia

COVID-19: Russia president hold back on tough measures.


President Vladimir Putin postponed a vote on constitutional reforms and urged Russians to stay home to contain the coronavirus on Wednesday, but did not impose the kind of strong measures taken in other countries.

In a rare televised address to the nation, Putin said Russia could not isolate itself from the spreading pandemic but focused mainly on support for the struggling economy.


“The health, life and safety of people is our absolute priority,” Putin said.

The vote on constitutional reforms, which had been due to take place on April 22, “must be postponed to a later date”, he said, without specifying when.


The reforms, proposed by the president and approved by lawmakers over the last few months, would reset presidential term limits and potentially allow Putin, in power for 20 years, to stay in office until 2036.

Critics have denounced the project as a way for Putin to remain “president for life”.


He also took the unusual step of declaring March 28 to April 5 a non-working week in order to slow the spread of the virus, urging Russians to stay at home.

“It is extremely important now to prevent the threat of the disease spreading rapidly,” he said.


‘Can affect everyone’

“This can affect everyone. What is happening today in many Western countries — in Europe and across the ocean — can become our nearest future.”

He unveiled a series of measures to support Russians and boost the economy, including breaks on consumer loans and mortgage payments, support for small- and medium-sized businesses and early payouts of social benefits.


The coronavirus and a dizzying fall in oil prices have sparked a two-pronged crisis for the Russian economy, with the ruble falling to its lowest levels since early 2016.

This presents a huge challenge to Putin’s promises to boost growth and raise living standards.


The Kremlin announced Putin’s address as Russia on Wednesday recorded its biggest spike in confirmed coronavirus infections so far, with 163 new cases for a total of 658 across the country.

One person who was infected has died but officials are not linking the death to the virus.


Concern has risen as the number of cases steadily grows.

Putin met with top officials to discuss containment measures on Tuesday, putting on a yellow hazmat suit as he visited a major hospital treating coronavirus patients.


Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who heads a coronavirus task force, told Putin that the actual number of cases was probably “significantly” higher than official figures.

Russia previously imposed 14-day quarantines on people arriving from abroad, closed schools and told elderly residents in Moscow, where most of the cases are concentrated, to self-isolate.


It halted cultural and sports events and closed fitness clubs, cinemas and night clubs, although restaurants and cafes were allowed to remain open.

Authorities have repeatedly denied plans to impose lockdowns like those seen in China, Italy, Spain, France or Britain, but the warnings from officials on Tuesday were stark.


“The problem is that the volume of testing is very low and no one has a clear picture” of the situation in Russia and the world, Sobyanin told Putin.

‘Italian’ scenario

Denis Protsenko, head doctor of Moscow’s new hospital treating coronavirus patients, told Putin that Russia needed to be ready for an “Italian” scenario, referring to what is now the hardest-hit country in the world in terms of deaths.


“If there is a big spike, and Moscow is headed there, our hospital is ready to transform,” he said.

Russian lawmakers have proposed imposing severe punishments — including up to seven years in prison — for people breaking coronavirus quarantine rules.


Apart from traditional New Year’s greetings, Putin rarely addresses the public on television. The last time was over unpopular pension reform in August 2018.

Putin did not say whether he will postpone plans for a massive military parade on May 9 to mark 75 years since the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Dozens of foreign leaders have been invited to take part.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday the postponement of the celebration had been discussed but no decision was yet made.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: More than 500 lions released in Russia to curb roaming.


Social media went on frenzy on Sunday as some reports claimed that Vladimir Putin has ordered a release of around 500 lions on the streets of Russia to ensure that people remain inside their houses during the coronavirus outbreak.

Pictures and Videos of lions on a street were being circulated and a tweet also claimed that “Vladimir Putin has given Russians two options. You stay at home for 2 weeks or you go to jail for 5years. No middle ground.”

However, it has been found that this is a FAKE NEWS and no such orders have been passed in Russia.

The picture of a lion on the street is from the year 2016. It was clicked in South Africa.


Meanwhile, the claim that people will have to face a jail term of five years if they break 15-day home quarantine is also incorrect.

However, people across the world have been asked to stay indoors and move out only if there is an emergency situation due to coronavirus outbreak.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Russia announces 1st death.


Russia said on Thursday a 79-year-old woman with underlying health issues who tested positive for the new coronavirus had died from pneumonia, the country’s first confirmed death resulting from the virus.

Russia, which has temporarily barred entry to foreigners and imposed an array of flight restrictions, has reported 147 coronavirus cases so far, less than many other European countries.


That figure has risen sharply in recent days, however, but authorities have said the situation is under control and that most infected people have entered Russia from coronavirus hot spots.

Some doctors have questioned the veracity of Russian data, given what they say is the patchy nature of testing. But the government has said it has been transparent about its handling of the crisis, and that its statistics are accurate.


Moscow’s coronavirus crisis centre said in a statement on Thursday that the elderly woman who died had begun receiving treatment last week in a private clinic before being moved to a hospital specialising in infectious diseases.

It did not say where the woman was thought to have picked up the virus but said her circle of close acquaintances had been identified and was under medical observation.


None of them was displaying any serious coronavirus symptoms, it said. Russians above the age of 60 were strongly advised to minimise contact with other people, it added.

“The main message of the government is not to panic and that everything is under control,” NobleReporters learnt


“But there is a lot of concern, of course. People don’t trust the low number of cases the government is reporting, and are worried that the government is hiding the true story – something, of course, they have experienced a lot in the past. Even the comparison with the Chernobyl nuclear explosion has been made.

“People have been panic buying – also out of experience, that food could come in short supply.


“There are different schools of thought here. There are experts who believe that Russia, by quickly closing the border with China, did manage to keep the infections low. Also, there were quarantine rules in place for people coming from affected countries, with very high prison terms if violated.

“But there are also many experts who believe that we simply don’t know how widespread the virus is at this stage. The government has centralised testing, which is done by one Siberian-based company – and experts have called this test unreliable. Other companies who have developed tests are not allowed to sell them.


“Also, doctors have said they did not report suspected cases of COVID-19 because they were worried patients would be sent to a government facility where they could be put in the same room with other patients, and face an even more dangerous situation. Doctors also did not report because they were worried they would have to close their practice because of the fear of spreading the virus.

“One sign that things could be a lot worse is the sudden increase of pneumonia cases – up 37 percent, to 2,000 cases.


“Another sign is that the government in recent days has also tightened its measures, closed borders for all foreigners until May 1, closed schools, and the elderly have been advised to stay home.

“And a 500-bed infectious diseases hospital is being built outside of Moscow, which should be done by next month. That’s another big issue – the lack of proper healthcare has been a big issue in the past few years, and people wonder how the government is going to cope when the virus becomes widespread. The government says they have 12,000 intensive care beds and a population of 147 million, but questions are being raised about the condition of healthcare facilities and their equipment.


“Streets here still look normal and busy. People are still going about their usual business. The Metro is less crowded, though people are taking their cars, causing huge traffic jams.”

More than 218,900 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 8,926 have died, with cases and deaths outside China overtaking those in the country where the outbreak began, according to a Reuters tally. Infections outside China have been reported by 172 countries.

In Mainland China, which has 80,907 cases, there have been 3,245 deaths. Italy, the second-hardest hit nation, has seen 2,978 deaths among 35,713 confirmed cases.


#Newsworthy…

Russia: Putin sign new law that could make him rule till 2036.


Russian President, Vladimir Putin has signed a law on constitutional changes that could keep him in power for another 16 years.

Last week, 67-year-old Putin made an appearance in parliament to back an amendment that would allow him to ignore a constitutional ban on him running again in 2024.


The Kremlin has revealed in a statement that Putin signed off the constitutional changes on Saturday just three days after it was passed through the Russian parliament with only one vote against it.

Russia’s constitutional will now approve the changes after a nationwide vote on the amendments to the constitution planned for April 22.

Under current law, Putin would not be able to run for president again in 2024 because of term limits, but the new measure would open the way for him to run for two more six-year terms.

If approved, the move would make Putin the ruler of Russia for 36 years, the longest tenure in the country’s modern history. He has been in power since 2000.


#Newsworthy…

Russia: 94 persons escape Boeing plane’s death


A Boeing 737-500 airliner with 94 people on board made a hard landing in northwestern Russia on Sunday, carrier UTair said, but no one was badly hurt.
It said the airliner, arriving at Usinsk airport in the Komi Republic about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from Moscow, made the hard landing because of wind shear – a sudden change of wind velocity and/or direction.

The plane’s main landing gear was damaged in the landing but the crew managed to bring the aircraft to a halt on the runway, UTair said in a statement. All passengers and crew safely left the airliner.


Pictures posted on the websites of the regional government and emergency situations ministry showed the airliner lying flat on its belly on a runway covered partly with snow.

Last week in Istabul, a Pegasus Airline Boeing 737 almost made a hard landing, skidding off the runway with several fatalities and scores of injuries reported.


#Newsworthy…

My decision to rule for life; Putin says Russia will support him


Russian President, Vladimir Putin in his annual state of the nation address delivered on Thursday in Moscow announced new shocking reforms and sweeping changes to the country’s constitution that will make him President for the rest of his life.

In a shock announcement, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said his government was stepping down after Putin used his annual state of the nation address to propose constitutional reforms that would strengthen parliament’s role


On Thursday during a live address on national TV, Putin said he was sure the Russian people will support his sweeping changes to the country’s constitution that could keep him in power beyond 2024 long after his presidential term ends.

In his address, Putin described how power would be shifted from the presidency to parliament and the state council and comes as the Russian parliament backed his surprise choice for a new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin.


“Of course these are very serious changes to the political system,’ Putin said in his address as he promised a referendum on the plans.

“It would increase the role and significance of the country’s parliament … of parliamentary parties, and the independence and responsibility of the prime minister.”

Russian President, Vladimir Putin

“I’m sure that Russian people will support me,” he added.

In his speech, Putin also called for the power of the State Council, an advisory body, to be increased and enshrined in the constitution ensuring he rules for life just like China’s leader Xi Jinping.


#Newsworthy…

Russian’s entire government resigned over President Putin’s plan


Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister of Russia and the entire Russian government have resigned after President Vladimir Putin proposed a constitutional reform that would allow him remain in power indefinitely.

Speaking in his annual address to parliament on Wednesday, Putin proposed a referendum on amending Russia’s constitution to increase the powers of parliament while maintaining a strong presidential system.


“I consider it necessary to conduct a vote by the country’s citizens on an entire package of proposed amendments to the country’s constitution,” Putin said.

He also suggested an amendment of the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime ministers and cabinet members.


“It will increase the role of parliament and parliamentary parties, powers and independence of the prime minister and all cabinet members,” Putin said.

“We will be able to build a strong prosperous Russia only on the basis of respect for public opinion.


“Together we will certainly change life for the better. Russia must remain a strong presidential republic.”

After President Putin made his plans known, his entire government including the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tendered their resignation to him.

Hours after the government resigned, Putin named federal tax chief Mikhail Mishustin, 53 years old and a relatively unknown technocrat, as the new prime minister.

According to RIA news agency, Mishustin will face a vote of approval in the lower house of parliament on Thursday.


#Newsworthy…

Russian president, Putin suggested to Bashar Assad to invite Trump to Damascus

…to become normal


A video has emerged where in a lighthearted exchange last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to Syrian President Bashar Assad that he invite US President Donald Trump to visit Damascus ‘to become normal’.

Assad signalled he was prepared to go ahead with the idea. Putin said he would pass the message to Trump.


The video, according to multiple reports was shot during Putin’s visit last week to Syria.

It was aired Sunday by the Russian-1 channel and it showed a conversation between Putin and Assad as they visited the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus.


Assad mentioned the New Testament story of Paul the Apostle, who became a Christian after experiencing a miracle as he traveled to Damascus where he planned to arrest disciples of Jesus.

According to Christian lore, the incident happened on the road where the church is located.


“If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too,” Assad jokes to a smiling Putin, according to a translation by the Axios website.

Putin responds that Trump would be keen to visit and if he wasn’t, he’d convince the American leader to come.


According to the original Axios transalation, Putin agreed with Assad that Trump needs some healing in Damascus. He laughed and told Assad: “It will be repaired … invite him. He will come.” Assad answers that he is ready to invite Trump, to which Putin responds, smiling: “I will tell him.”

It was the second time that leaders would crack joke on American leader, that would be recorded on video. At NATO summit in London last month, Canadian leader, Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson were all captured on video mocking Trump.

Putin’s unannounced visit to Damascus was his second to the country during its ongoing civil war, where Russian troops have been fighting alongside Syrian government forces since 2015. It came amid a crushing Russian-backed offensive by Syrian forces on the northwestern province of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria.

In addition, tensions between the US and Iran, an ally of Syria and Russia, have skyrocketed after the US killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq, saying he was planning attacks on American interests. Iran responded with a missile attack on two US bases, also in Iraq, causing no injuries.


#Newsworthy…

Putin – Trump’s impeachment, all made up… Senate won’t uphold it.

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has dismissed the impeachment charges against US President Donald Trump which he claimed were all made up.

Speaking during an annual press conference, Putin said he expects the US president to survive the historic proceedings.

Describing the impeachment proceedings as political infighting, the Russian leader insisted that the Democrats were seeking to make up for their loss in the 2016 presidential elections “by other means”.

“The Democratic party, which lost the elections, is achieving results through other means, by accusing Trump at first of conspiracy with Russia, then it turns out, there was no conspiracy at all.

“It then turned out that there was no collusion and it could not form the basis for an impeachment, and now there is this made-up pressure on Ukraine.”

Recall that President Trump became the third president in US history to be impeached, after the House passed two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Newsworthy…

Russia banned for four years from participating in all sporting events.

By the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada)…

It means the Russia flag and anthem will not be allowed at events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics and football’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But athletes who can prove they are untainted by the doping scandal will be able to compete under a neutral flag.

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban was part of “chronic anti-Russian hysteria”.

“It is obvious that significant doping problems still exist in Russia, I mean our sporting community,” he said. “This is impossible to deny.

“But on the other hand the fact that all these decisions are repeated, often affecting athletes who have already been punished in one way or another, not to mention some other points – of course this makes one think that this is part of anti-Russian hysteria which has become chronic.”

Wada’s executive committee made the unanimous decision to impose the ban on Russia in a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday.

It comes after Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

It had to hand over data to Wada as a condition of its controversial reinstatement in 2018 after a three-year suspension for its vast state-sponsored doping scandal.

Wada says Rusada has 21 days to appeal against the ban. If it does so, the appeal will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said the decision showed its “determination to act resolutely in the face of the Russian doping crisis”.

He added: “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of Rusada’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response.

“That is exactly what has been delivered.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”

But Wada vice-president Linda Helleland said the ban was “not enough”.

“I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down,” she said. “We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible.”

A total of 168 Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after the country was banned following the 2014 Games, which it hosted in Sochi. Russian athletes won 33 medals in Sochi, 13 of which were gold.

Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015.

Despite the ban, Russia will be able to compete at Euro 2020 – in which St Petersburg will be a host city – as European football’s governing body Uefa is not defined as a ‘major event organisation’ with regards to rulings on anti-doping breaches.

Fifa said it had “taken note” of Wada’s decision, adding: “Fifa is in contact with Wada to clarify the extent of the decision in regards to football.”

In a statement, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said: “Those responsible for the manipulation of data from the Moscow laboratory before it was transferred to Wada appear to have done everything possible to undermine the principles of fair and clean sport, principles that the rest of the sporting world support and adhere to.

“This sincere lack of respect towards the rest of the global sporting movement is not welcome and has zero place in the world of sport. It is only right that those responsible for this data manipulation are punished.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it “supported” Wada’s decision.

How did we get here?

Rusada was initially declared non-compliant in November 2015 after a Wada-commissioned report by sports lawyer Professor Richard McLaren alleged widespread corruption that amounted to state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field athletics.

A further report, published in July 2016, declared Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports.

In 2018, Wada reinstated Rusada as compliant after the national agency agreed to release data from its Moscow laboratory from the period between January 2012 and August 2015.

However, positive findings contained in a version courtesy of a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the January 2019 data, which prompted a new inquiry.

Wada’s compliance review committee (CRC) recommended a raft of measures based “in particular” on a forensic review of inconsistencies found in some of that data.

As part of the ban, Russia may not host, or bid for or be granted the right to host any major events for four years, including the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

What was the reaction?

Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Russian anti-doping official who fled to the United States after his allegations about a state-sponsored doping programme, says there remains “more to do”.

“Finally, fraud, lies and falsifications of unspeakable proportions have been punished in full swing,” he said in a statement.

“Those involved in the corruption of certain sports such as track and field, weightlifting, skiing, biathlon and bobsled, should be punished retroactively. The results of the London and Sochi Olympic Games should be reanalysed and reconsidered with the new knowledge available today.

“We only have a few months to reanalyse the samples from the 2012 London Games because, according to Wada rules, we only have eight years to review.

“There is a whole generation of clean athletes who have painfully abandoned their dreams and lost awards because of Russian cheaters. We need to take the strongest action to bring justice back to sport.”

UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) chief executive Nicole Sapstead said Wada’s decision to impose a ban on Russia was the “only possible outcome” to “reassure athletes and the public and continue the task of seeking justice for those cheated by Russian athletes”.

However, Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said not imposing a blanket ban on all participation by Russian athletes – even under a neutral flag – is a “devastating blow” to clean athletes.

“The reaction by all those who value sport should be nothing short of a revolt against this broken system to force reform,” he said, adding that it was “another horrendous Groundhog Day of Russian corruption and domination”.

“Wada promised the world back in 2018 that if Russia failed yet again to live up to its agreements, it would use the toughest sanction under the rules. Yet, here we go again; Wada says one thing and does something entirely different.”

British powerlifter and Paralympic medallist Ali Jawad, who is a member of UK Anti-Doping’s athlete commission, said Wada had been “soft”.

“To protect the next generation of Russian athletes, we need to make sure Russia and the system is punished to the fullest extent,” Jawad told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The only way we can change that is meaningful change and what kind of message does this send out to the future generation? That, actually, state-sponsored doping, we are going to treat it softly.”

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson told Radio Wales that Wada has now “stepped up” and moved forward after “not taking it as seriously”.

“There are a couple of things; there will be clean Russian athletes, it is a shame for them, but there are lots of clean athletes that have been affected by anyone who has doped,” she said.

“For the athletes who are clean, the British athletes that have lost out, Goldie Sayers, the British bobsleigh team who get their medals years later, it is no recompense.”

Triple Olympic medallist Kelly Sotherton, who was retrospectively awarded her 2008 heptathlon bronze after Russia’s Tatyana Chernova failed to have a doping ban overturned, says she understands why tougher sanctions were not imposed.

“I think they are thinking of the majority of athletes who are doing the right thing, not the wrong thing,” she said.

#Newsworthy

Russian tycoon & billionaire, Dmitry Obretetsky died in a motor clash accident

…while heading to Surrey with his dog

A Russian tycoon living in Britain has died after he was hit by a car while walking his dog near his Surrey home.

Surrey Police confirmed in a statement that 49-year-old Dmitry Obretetsky, whose company was the official distributor of Mars and Nestle was the man that was knocked down in Oxshott on November 25.

He died in hospital five days later. His dog Oscar was also killed in the three-car crash.

Russian billionaire tycoon Dmitry Obretetsky mysteriously killed in crash involving three cars while walking his dog in Surrey

Obretetsky’s friend Pavel Borovkov today questioned whether he was deliberately killed, telling Russian news outlet Life: ‘You know, people drive cars very carefully in (Britain)… I don’t exclude that he was specially knocked down.’

He also paid tribute to the tycoon as “a wonderful friend and colleague, an understanding and friendly person”.

He added: “Dmitry was a man of diverse interests – he did not focus only on business.

“We remember how at the famous quarter-final of Euro 2008 he proudly, completely alone in a crowd of Dutch fans, held a large Russian flag with the inscription ‘Volgograd’.

“He loved contemporary music – hard rock. He was a fan of Ozzy Osbourne.”

Surrey Police are appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage after the father of three was mysteriously killed.

A police spokesman said: ‘We are continuing to investigate the circumstances around the collision.’

Dmitry Obretetsky ‘s death is the latest of a string of prominent Russians who have died in mysterious circumstances in the UK. In 2008, Badri Patarkatsishvili died at an estate near Leatherhead, while Alexander Peripilichnyy died near Weybridge in 2012, and in 2013, Boris Berezovsky died near Ascot.

Obretetsky was reported to be a billionaire who made his fortune in Volgograd after the fall of the Soviet Union before moving to Surrey with his wife and children

He founded a household chemicals retail company and was owner of Magnat Trade Enterprise, official distributor for Mars, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble in Russia.

His consulting company LLC Advant said: “We know very little about what happened. Of course, this is a great loss and tragedy for all of us.”

#Newsworthy…