Monthly Archives : October 2018

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Порошенко: в Україні мінімальну зарплату отримує понад 4,5 мільйони людей

31
Oct,2018

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Мінімальну зарплату офіційно отримує понад 4,5 мільйони людей в Україні, повідомив президент України Петро Порошенко під час зустрічі з представниками бізнесу.

«Зараз в Україні понад 4,5 мільйони людей працює за мінімальну заробітну плату. Це неправильно і це означає, що нам є куди рухатися», – сказав Порошенко.

Він зазначив, що «є два шляхи»: підвищувати мінімальну заробітну плану або проводити детінізацію зарплат.

З 1 січня 2018 року мінімальна зарплата була встановлена на рівні 3 723 гривень. Уряд обіцяє, що у 2019 році «мінімалка» зросте до 4 170 гривень.

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САП розповіла про перебіг розгляду в суді справи щодо Насірова

31
Oct,2018

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31 жовтня прокурори зачитали 24 сторінки обвинувального акта щодо екс-голови Державної фіскальної служби України Романа Насірова, повідомила Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура.

«Прокурори САП на вимогу сторони захисту розпочали 7 грудня 2017 року зачитувати повний текст обвинувального акту, який складається з 774 сторінок. Упродовж сьогоднішнього судового засідання прокурорами зачитано 24 сторінки обвинувального акту. Таким чином, у справі зачитано уже 391 сторінку обвинувального акту», – заявили в САП.

Наступне засідання призначене на 20 листопада 2018 року.

На початку березня 2017 року суд арештував Насірова з можливістю застави в 100 мільйонів гривень, яку внесли його дружина і тесть. Після цього відсторонений голова ДФС вийшов із СІЗО. 15 лютого Насіров попросив Окружний адміністративний суд Києва поновити його на посаді голови Державної фіскальної служби.

За даними слідства, Насіров причетний до так званої «газової схеми Онищенка» і впродовж 2015 року ухвалив низку «безпідставних і незаконних рішень» про розстрочення сум платежів з рентної плати за користування надрами для задіяних у схемі компаній на загальну суму понад мільярд гривень. Слідство вважає, що такими рішеннями державі завдано збитків на суму майже 2 мільярди гривень. Захист Насірова і він сам ці звинувачення заперечують.

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Вишинський має намір скаржитися до Вищої ради правосуддя на дії судді

31
Oct,2018

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Підозрюваний в державній зраді глава «РИА Новости-Украина» збирається скаржитися до Вищої ради правосуддя на дії слідчого судді. Про це повідомляє кореспондент проекту Радіо Свобода «Крим.Реалії».

31 жовтня Херсонський міський суд відмовив у задоволенні клопотання сторони захисту підозрюваного в зраді глави «РИА Новости-Украина» Кирила Вишинського про відвід слідчого судді Галини Радченко.

При цьому суд погодився з тим, що на вересневому засіданні були допущені порушення, які дають право звернутися зі скаргою до компетентних органів.

У суді Вишинський наполягав на тому, що Радченко «фактично відмовляла йому в захисті», смс-повідомлення про засідання його адвокату прийшло із запізненням, а саму суддю він викрив у брехні.

«Суд зазначив, що були значні порушення, які дають можливість нашому підзахисному звернутися до компетентних органів з приводу дій судді, зокрема зі скаргою до Вищої ради правосуддя. Я думаю, що Кирило Вишинський цим скористається. На суді він зазначив, що буде реалізовувати свої права», – прокоментував ситуацію адвокат Андрій Доманський.

Читайте також: Вишинський, якого в Україні підозрюють у держзраді, отримав у Росії премію імені Політковської

Херсонський міський суд 6 серпня залишив під арештом обвинуваченого в державній зраді Вишинського на 60 діб, продовживши тримання під вартою до 4 листопада.

Затриманому 15 травня в Києві медіаменеджеру інкримінують державну зраду і проведення підривної інформаційної діяльності проти України. Вишинського загрожує до 15 років позбавлення волі в разі визнання винним. Він усі звинувачення відкидає.

За даними СБУ, Вишинський за завданням Москви готував інформаційні матеріали в Криму для виправдання анексії Росією українського півострова, пізніше в Києві – для підтримки угруповань «ДНР» і «ЛНР». Щомісяця він отримував на цю діяльність 53 тисячі євро, ці гроші, як заявили в СБУ, надходили з Росії через Сербію.

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Birthday Blues for Bitcoin as Investors Face Year-on-Year Loss

31
Oct,2018

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Bitcoin was heading towards a year-on-year loss on Wednesday, its 10th birthday, the first loss since last year’s bull market, when the original and biggest digital coin muscled its way to worldwide attention with months of frenzied buying.

By 1300 GMT, bitcoin was trading at $6,263 on the BitStamp exchange, leaving investors who had bought it on Halloween 2017 facing yearly losses of nearly 3 percent.

A year ago, bitcoin closed at $6,443.22 as it tore towards a record high of near $20,000, hit in December.

That run, fueled by frenzied buying by retail investors from South Korea to the United States, pushed bitcoin to calendar-year gains of over 1,300 percent.

Ten years ago, Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s still-unidentified founder, released a white paper detailing the need for an online currency that could be used for payments without the involvement of a third party, such as a bank.

Traders and market participants said the Halloween milestone was inevitable, given losses of around 70 percent from bitcoin’s peak and the continuing but incomplete shift towards investment by mainstream financial firms.

“The value mechanisms of crypto and bitcoin today are based more on underlying tech than hype and FOMO (fear of missing out),” said Josh Bramley, head trader at crypto wealth management firm Blockstars.

Growing use of blockchain – the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin – is now powering valuations of the digital currency, he said, cautioning that some expectations for widespread use have not yet materialized.

Others said improvements to infrastructure such as custody services may allow mainstream investors who are wary of buying bitcoin to take positions.

“We see behind closed doors financial and non-financial institutions beavering away to create the infrastructure,” said Ben Sebley, head of brokerage at NKB Group, a blockchain advisory and investment firm.

Bitcoin has endured year-on-year losses before, according to data from CryptoCompare, most recently in 2015.

Retail investors still account for a strong proportion of trading, market players said.

Investors who bet early on bitcoin and have stuck with it have faced a roller-coaster ride in its first decade. Many told Reuters they are optimistic that they are still onto a winner.

 

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Порошенко підписав закон «Маски шоу стоп-2»

31
Oct,2018

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Закон під умовною назвою «Маски-шоу стоп 2» полегшує механізм притягнення до відповідальності слідчого чи прокурора, які прийняли незаконне рішення під час розслідування

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Austria Will Not Join Global Migration Agreement

31
Oct,2018

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Austria said Wednesday it will join the United States and Hungary in not signing a global agreement meant to minimize the factors that push migrants to leave their home country, while boosting safety, access to services and inclusion for those who are compelled to go.

Nations are due to gather in early December in Morocco to adopt the non-binding Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was negotiated through a U.N.-led process during the past two years.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said his government fears the agreement would pose a threat to its national sovereignty and that it would blur the lines between legal and illegal migration.

Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said there is not and should not be a human right to migration.

Hungary also cited concerns about the agreement going against national interests when it announced in July it would not be part of the pact.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters that contrary to his government’s policies, the agreement would promote migration as “good and inevitable,” and “it could inspire millions” of migrants.

The United States was the first to step away from the negotiations, deciding in December of last year that the proposed agreement was “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies.”

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, “but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal.”

The Global Compact features 23 objectives, including boosting access to basic services, strengthening anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking efforts, eliminating discrimination, safeguarding conditions that ensure decent work, and facilitating safe and dignified return for those who are sent back home.

The United Nations estimates there are about 258 million migrants in the world — or just over three percent of the world’s population. The world body considers a migrant to be anyone who changes their country, regardless of the reason. It expects the number of migrants to increase due to factors such as population growth, trade, rising inequality and climate change.

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S. Korean Voting Machines at Center of DRC Election Dispute

31
Oct,2018

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As elections approach in the central African nation the Democratic Republic of Congo, concerns have been raised over the integrity of electronic voting machines being used in the national poll that were made by South Korea’s Miryu Systems. VOA’s Steve Miller reports from Seoul on the risks.

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Google Spinoff to Test Truly Driverless Cars in California

31
Oct,2018

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The robotic car company created by Google is poised to attempt a major technological leap in California, where its vehicles will hit the roads without a human on hand to take control in emergencies.

The regulatory approval announced Tuesday allows Waymo’s driverless cars to cruise through California at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. 

The self-driving cars have traveled millions of miles on the state’s roads since Waymo began as a secretive project within Google nearly a decade ago. But a backup driver had been required to be behind the wheel until new regulations in April set the stage for the transition to true autonomy. 

Waymo is the first among dozens of companies testing self-driving cars in California to persuade state regulators its technology is safe enough to permit them on the roads without a safety driver in them. An engineer still must monitor the fully autonomous cars from a remote location and be able to steer and stop the vehicles if something goes wrong.

Free rides in Arizona

California, however, won’t be the first state to have Waymo’s fully autonomous cars on its streets. Waymo has been giving rides to a group of volunteer passengers in Arizona in driverless cars since last year. It has pledged to deploy its fleet of fully autonomous vans in Arizona in a ride-hailing service open to all comers in the Phoenix area by the end of this year.

But California has a much larger population and far more congestion than Arizona, making it even more challenging place for robotic cars to get around.

Waymo is moving into its next phase in California cautiously. To start, the fully autonomous cars will only give rides to Waymo’s employees and confine their routes to roads in its home town of Mountain View, California, and four neighboring Silicon Valley cities — Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto.

If all goes well, Waymo will then seek volunteers who want to be transported in fully autonomous vehicles, similar to its early rider program in Arizona . That then could lead to a ride-hailing service like the one Waymo envisions in Arizona.

Can Waymo cars be trusted?

But Waymo’s critics are not convinced there is enough evidence that the fully autonomous cars can be trusted to be driving through neighborhoods without humans behind the wheel. 

“This will allow Waymo to test its robotic cars using people as human guinea pigs,” said John Simpson, privacy and technology project director for Consumer Watchdog, a group that has repeatedly raised doubts about the safety of self-driving cars.

Those concerns escalated in March after fatal collision involving a self-driving car being tested by the leading ride-hailing service, Uber. In that incident, an Uber self-driving car with a human safety driver struck and killed a pedestrian crossing a darkened street in a Phoenix suburb.

Waymo’s cars with safety drivers have been involved in dozens of accidents in California, but those have mostly been minor fender benders at low speeds.

 All told, Waymo says its self-driving cars have collectively logged more than 10 million miles in 25 cities in a handful of states while in autonomous mode, although most of those trips have occurred with safety drivers.

Will Waymo save lives?

Waymo contends its robotic vehicles will save lives because so many crashes are caused by human motorists who are intoxicated, distracted or just bad drivers.

“If a Waymo vehicle comes across a situation it doesn’t understand, it does what any good driver would do: comes to a safe stop until it does understand how to proceed,” the company said Tuesday.

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Electronics Flexes Into the Future

31
Oct,2018

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Advancements in digital printing are leading to more sophisticated, flexible electronics capable of changing the way we live and the way we use technology. Reporter Deana Mitchell takes a look at the latest technological innovations at a research center in San Jose, California.

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UN Says Planned Elections in E. Ukraine Could Contradict International Agreements

31
Oct,2018

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The U.N.’s political chief cautioned Tuesday that planned local elections in two separatist areas of eastern Ukraine next month could contradict international agreements. 

“The U.N. urges all parties to avoid any unilateral steps that could deepen the divide or depart from the spirit and letter of the Minsk agreements,” Rosemary DiCarlo told a Security Council meeting on the issue. 

In 2015, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists signed the Minsk agreement in the Belarus capital. It seeks to halt the fighting through a cease-fire and the withdrawal of foreign troops and heavy weapons, and open the way to a permanent, legal and political solution to the conflict in Ukraine, which began in 2014. 

De facto authorities in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have announced that they plan to hold elections on Nov. 11. 

“As we understand, two separate ballots in both Donetsk and Luhansk are reportedly being planned: one for the “head of Republic” and one for the “People’s Councils,” DiCarlo said. She said the posts will reportedly be for five-year terms. 

She noted that election-related matters are covered in the Minsk agreements. 

“I therefore caution that any such measures taken outside Ukraine’s constitutional and legal framework would be incompatible with the Minsk agreements,” she said. 

Western council members echoed her concerns and condemned the planned ballot.

“These sham elections staged by Russia run directly counter to efforts to implement the Minsk peace agreements,” said U.S. deputy U.N. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen. “The elections also obstruct and undermine efforts to end the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

“We do see these so-called elections as illegitimate,” said British Ambassador Karen Pierce. “They are the latest example in the Russian campaign to destabilize Ukraine. They are a clear breach of the Minsk agreements, and they are illegal under Ukrainian law.”

Even China, a close ally of Moscow, expressed concerns. 

“China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, and opposes the interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs by any external forces,” Beijing’s deputy envoy told the council. 

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia dismissed the criticism. 

“Today, we are witnesses of the latest round of hypocrisy — the total and inexcusable sabotage by Kyiv of the Minsk agreements, over the long term, factually from Day One, has been completely ignored,” Nebenzia said. “Instead of recognizing this fact, in the discussion in the Security Council we are discussing the forthcoming elections in November, which are a necessary measure in conditions of sabotage by Kyiv of its political commitments.”

He said European and American sanctions imposed on Moscow because of the Ukrainian situation is an invitation to Kyiv to continue undermining its Minsk obligations because Russia will be the one to pay for it. 

Ukraine’s ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko, said holding these “so-called early elections’ would amount to putting armed gangs’ leaders in seats in illegitimate representative bodies.” He said the move is a “provocation” and a “further escalation” of the situation by Russia. 

While he acknowledged to reporters later that there is little Kyiv authorities can do to stop the voting from going forward, he said the results would be null and void and not be recognized by Ukraine or the international community. 

After a brief calm over the summer months, the U.N. said during the past six weeks, cease-fire violations have spiked, and casualty levels have risen. It also reports increased tensions in the Sea of Azov, warning there is a “need to avoid any risk of escalation, provocation or miscalculation.” 

The Kyiv government has been clashing with Russian-backed separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The United Nations says more than 3,000 civilians have been killed, and up to 9,000 injured since the start of the conflict.

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Merkel Looks to Africa to Cement A Legacy Shaped by Migration

30
Oct,2018

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Tuesday a new development fund to tackle unemployment in Africa, a problem spurring the mass migration that has shaped her long premiership as it nears its end.

Merkel hosted a summit of African leaders a day after her announcement that she would retire from politics by 2021, which sent shockwaves across Europe and started a race to succeed her.

She needs the Compact with Africa summit to show that progress has been made in addressing the aftermath of one of the defining moments of her 13 years in power: her 2015 decision to open Germany’s doors to more than a million asylum seekers.

The Berlin summit, attended by 12 presidents and prime ministers including Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, is designed to showcase the continent as a stable destination for German investment.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde is also there, along with a host of international development officials.

The aim is to create good jobs for Africans, easing the poverty which, along with political instability and violence, has encouraged large numbers to head for Europe. But with Africa’s population growing at almost three percent a year, the task is enormous.

“We Europeans have a great interest in African states having a bright economic outlook,” Merkel said in her opening speech, announcing the fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises from both Europe and Africa to invest on the continent.

The 119,000 Africans who arrived in Europe in 2018, according to the International Organization for Migration, are the tip of the iceberg. International Labor Organization figures show that 16 million migrants were on the move within Africa in 2014.

While European Union countries invested $22 billion in Africa in 2017, breakneck economic growth will be needed to help bring down the migrant numbers.

Berlin hopes Germany’s manufacturing-based economy, which drove Eastern Europe’s rapid economic growth after the 1989 collapse of Communism, could turn things round.

Merkel needs results fast if she is to ensure the leadership of her Christian Democrats passes to a centrist ally, such as its general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

A marshall plan for Africa?

Other candidates for the party leadership, including Health Minister Jens Spahn or her old rival, the strongly pro-business Friedrich Merz, are well to her right politically and could be expected to want to challenge much of her legacy.

Merkel has said she will remain chancellor but that her current, fourth term up to 2021 will be her last. A whopping 71 percent of Germans welcomed Merkel’s decision, a poll released Tuesday by broadcasters RTL and n-tv showed.

Germany has introduced tax incentives for its companies to set up plants in Africa, reflecting her view that state aid must give way to private investment if jobs are to be created in their millions.

This would be part of a “Marshall Plan for Africa” – named after the U.S.-funded plan that helped to rebuild European states including Germany after World War II – that she sees as central to her legacy.

Merkel presented her decision to open Germany’s borders in 2015 as an unavoidable necessity driven by the vast scale of the human tide, that year mostly fleeing the civil war in Syria.

An agreement with Turkey sharply curtailed the arrival of refugees into the EU through Greece. But hundreds of thousands of mainly African migrants continued to travel across the Mediterranean, a flow that finally began to abate in the past year with improved efforts to halt smuggling from Libya.

The crisis has upturned European politics, bringing the far right to power in Italy and Austria, and in Germany revitalizing the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose demand that the country shut its borders to migrants helped to fuel its surge into parliament in last year’s election.

A successful outcome to the summit may help to strengthen Merkel’s case for remaining chancellor even after stepping down from the party leadership, and could quieten her coalition partners in Bavaria’s conservative CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD).

All three parties have suffered punishing setbacks in regional elections this month, building internal party pressure for them to switch leaders or break up the coalition.

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Ради безпеки ООН обговорює ситуацію на окупованих територіях України – трансляція

30
Oct,2018

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Рада безпеки ООН обговорює на своєму засіданні ситуацію на окупованих територіях України. Радіо Свобода веде пряму трансляцію.

Українська місія при ООН інформувала, що в межах Римського статуту Україна подала дві декларації про визнання юрисдикції Міжнародного кримінального суду щодо розслідування злочинів, скоєних на українській території починаючи з листопада 2013 року.

Востаннє Рада безпеки обговорювала ситуацію в Україні 29 травня.

Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської анексії Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці сепаратистів. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці». За даними ООН, за час конфлікту загинули понад 10 300 людей.

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Вісім посадовців не подали декларації за 2017 рік – НАЗК

30
Oct,2018

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Вісім посадовців не подали електронні декларації про доходи за 2017 рік, повідомило Національне агентство України з питань запобігання корупції.

«Під час здійснення контролю своєчасності подання декларацій було встановлено, що сім посадових осіб не подали декларації після звільнення за 2017 рік, а одна особа – щорічну декларації за цей же рік», – заявили в НАЗК.

У відомстві зазначили, що серед посадовців, які не дотрималися вимог закону «Про запобігання корупції» – колишні аудитор одного з відділів Нацбанку, завідувач сектору Державної казначейської служби, спеціалісти окружного адміністративного суду, територіальних органів Мін’юсту, Пенсійного фонду, командири відділень ДСНС.

Крім того, у НАЗК заявили, що під час перевірки декларацій слідчого територіального управління Нацполіції в Чернівецькій області встановили ознаки декларування недостовірної інформації на суму понад 250 прожиткових мінімумів для працездатних осіб (понад 460 тисяч гривень).

У відомстві зазначили, що з початку року направили до правоохоронних органів 83 обґрунтовані висновки щодо неподання декларацій посадовцями та 69 – щодо недостовірних відомостей у декларації на суму понад 250 прожиткових мінімумів.

Національне агентство з питань запобігання корупції, яке фактично створене у 2016 році, серед іншого, здійснює перевірку декларацій, проводить моніторинг способу життя чиновників, посадових осіб, держслужбовців, суддів, прокурорів.

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11 Dead in Italy as Storms Batter Europe

30
Oct,2018

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The death toll from flooding and gale-force winds battering Italy rose to 11, authorities said Tuesday as storms raged across Europe.

Roads were reported blocked and thousands were left without power in southern and central Europe, where fierce winds and rain felled trees.

Venice flooded to a level seen few times before in the lagoon city’s history, with tourists and residents holding bags above their heads as water sloshed above their knees.

Debris from pulverized yachts filled the harbor of Rapallo near Genoa after a dam broke under the pressure of flood waters.

Heavy snow trapped many in their cars and hotels in the mountainous intersecting border regions of Italy, Switzerland, and France. 

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УПЦ (МП): ми проти дискримінації інших церков

30
Oct,2018

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11 жовтня синод Вселенського патріархату постановив, що продовжує процес надання автокефалії помісній Українській православній церкві.

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Russian Investigative Journalists Take on Intimidation, Threats

30
Oct,2018

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Recent allegations that an oligarch with close personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin is behind several attacks and at least one killing has compelled some journalists and free speech advocates to take a stand against intimidation tactics in Russia.

An October 22 Novaya Gazeta article by reporter Denis Korotkov, who just days prior to publication received a funeral wreath bearing an anonymous threat at his private residence and a severed goat’s head in a basket outside his newsroom, says billionaire businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin has directed clandestine hits on multiple continents.

Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s Chef” for catering presidential events and sometimes personally waiting on important guests, has been indicted by American investigators for allegedly trying to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.

In the investigative report about Prigozhin, headlined “The Chef Likes It Spicy,” Valery Alemchenko, a former convict who worked for Prigozhin, details physical attacks on Prigozhin’s opponents, as well as the killing of an opposition blogger in northwest Russia, all at the mogul’s behest.

Alemchenko also says several Prigozhin employees traveled to Syria last year to test an unknown poison on Syrians who refused to fight for President Bashar al-Assad’s government, an allegation Novaya Gazeta corroborated with two other sources.

Alemchenko disappeared shortly after meeting with the reporter and is now on a Russian police list of missing persons.

Danger of inaction

For Novaya Gazeta contributor Boris Vishnevsky, the latest threats and disappearances have taught him one thing: the greatest threat to his own colleagues and sources is their own inaction.

“I believe that the information published by Novaya Gazeta cannot remain only within the circle of its readers,” Vishnevsky told VOA’s Russian Service, explaining why he has called upon Russia’s prosecutor general and federal legislators to conduct an investigation of the latest allegations surrounding Prigozhin, and the threats against those who reported them.

“These are very serious suspicions of involvement in crimes, including the murders of people who, to put it mildly, are connected to Mr. Prigozhin and his structures,” said Vishnevsky, who is also a deputy in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. “This evidence should be checked, and I think there is enough – names are named, quotes are quoted. And to leave it unheeded seems to me quite impossible.”

Vishnevsky’s appeal coincided with a statement by the Union of Journalists of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad region, who expressed concerns about the threats directed at Korotkov.

Asked whether Russian investigators would actively probe any of Putin’s closest associates, Vishnevsky said that’s beside the point.

“I’m not inclined to have big illusions about its results, especially about the conclusions that will be made,” he said. “Nevertheless, I want to see official explanations from the prosecutor general’s office and the investigative committee on the reports of crimes contained in Denis Korotkov’s article.

“I understand that everything will be done to, in simple terms, cover up for Mr. Prigozhin,” he added. “But if a verification is not demanded, then you cannot expect anything at all.”

Because Article 144 of the Russian Criminal Code says crimes reported in the media require the consideration of federal prosecutors and investigators, Vishnevsky said he expects that some sort of investigation will be carried out.

‘Second wave’ of investigative reporting

Roman Zakharov of the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a non-governmental organization that advocates press freedom, said the threats against Korotkov are extremely serious, and that they come amid a “second wave” of hard-hitting investigative journalism occurring in Russia.

“The first surge of this genre was during the years of democratic development of Russia, but then it seemed to us to be something taken for granted,” Zakharov told VOA. “And now there is a second wave of investigations, and they are being conducted by many young journalists who write about economic crimes, about corruption, about the Mafia’s links with politicians.”

With a surge in investigative reporting, he said, comes a surge in threats to reporters and editors behind the stories.

“Of course editors try to protect [their reporters], but, as we see from practice, the powers of the editors themselves are limited,” he said, referring to the assassinations of Russian reporters stretching over decades. “But all joking aside, it’s impossible to oppose the Mafia, much less the state steamroller.”

As widely reported in Western media, some of Prigozhin’s privately owned enterprises, such as the Concord catering company, were used to bankroll disinformation campaigns designed to interfere with U.S. elections. Earlier this month, U.S. officials brought charges against Prigozhin employee Elena Khusyaynova for helping oversee the finances of the St. Petersburg-based “Internet Research Agency,” the so-called troll farm that aimed to influence American voters through social media postings.

Activities of Prigozhin’s private security-contracting firm, Wagner – a mercenary outfit that has conducted operations in Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic and Sudan – are well documented.

‘Don’t touch journalists’

Another member of Prigozhin’s security detail, Oleg Simonov, who is suspected of attacking the husband of an opposition activist and injecting him with poison, died last year under murky circumstances.

“Behind it all – written messages, funeral wreaths and a severed sheep’s head – as we know from past investigations, these are people who will stop at nothing and shrink from nothing,” Zakharov said, emphasizing that they “aren’t even averse to murdering their own associates.”

“There is the need to gather the entire journalistic community and citizens and say ‘No, Mr. Prigozhin! Don’t touch journalists, don’t threaten them,'” Zakharov said. “If you do not agree with the publications, sue them in court. Act by legal means, even if the Kremlin and the authorities are on your side.

“We hope that due to these public disclosures, there will be none of the excesses that have occurred with some other journalists,” Zakharov added, referring to “assault and battery … and also murders.”

Russia is currently ranked 148 out of 180 countries profiled in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index by international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

This story originated in VOA’s Russian Service. Some information for this report was provided by AP.

 

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