Russia ‘targeted Trump adviser in bid to infiltrate campaign’ – Stephanie KirchgaessnerFirst published on Sunday 23 April 2017 00.48 EDT


CNN claims investigators have intelligence suggesting Russians may have used Carter Page to try to access Trump campaign

Carter Page, who advised Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, makes a presentation in Moscow in December 2016. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters/Reuters

Russian operatives sought to infiltrate the Trump campaign using some of the US president’s own advisers, including Carter Page, according to a CNN report that cited unnamed US officials.

Page, a former Merrill Lynch banker who Trump referred to as a foreign policy adviser during his presidential race, has emerged as a key figure in several US investigations into possible coordination between the Kremlin.

New allegations that federal investigators have gathered intelligence that suggests Russian operatives may have used Page to try to gain access to the Trump campaign follows a separate report by the Washington Post that he was being monitored by the FBI last summer because of suspicions about his ties with Russia.

Page has denied wrongdoing but acknowledged that he might have shared information with Russians. He has insisted that the information was innocuous.

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Russia’s Charm Offensive in North Africa – By Oren Kessler and Boris Zilberman April 3, 2017


ALEXEI DRUZHININ / KREMLIN VIA REUTERS Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi attend a welcoming ceremony onboard guided missile cruiser Moskva at the Black Sea port of Sochi, August 12, 2014.

With the world’s attention focused on the question of Russian influence in the United States and the European Union, the Kremlin is quietly making inroads in another region critical to both the United States and Europe: the five North African states of the southern Mediterranean shore.

Russian and Algerian officials gathered at a St. Petersburg shipyard last month to shatter a champagne bottle on the first of two so-called Black Hole submarines built for the Algerian navy. The same day, news broke that Russia had deployed special forces and drones to a Soviet-era base in western Egypt to bolster a militia leader in neighboring Libya. Late last year, the secretary of Moscow’s national security council traveled to Morocco, where the king invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to repay the visit he had made to Moscow earlier in the year. And in Tunisia, where Russian tourism jumped tenfold in 2016, the Kremlin signed a deal last autumn to build a nuclear power plant.

Egypt, the world’s largest Arab state, was the jewel in the Soviets’ Middle East crown until it defected to the U.S. camp in the late 1970s, serving as Washington’s most important North African ally ever since. Cairo, however, began systematically expanding its ties with Russia soon after General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The administration of Barack Obama, wary of Cairo’s heavy-handed tactics to stamp out dissent, kept some distance from Sisi, who then turned to Russia to help fill the void. In 2015, Putin traveled to Cairo, where the streets were lined with banners bearing his image, and he returned the favor by presenting Sisi with a new Kalashnikov.

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Russia’s Nuclear Diplomacy – By Sagatom Saha April 2, 2017


 

ALEXEI DRUZHININ / KREMLIN VIA REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, Hungary, February 2017.

For signs of Russia’s geopolitical resurgence, look no further than Hungary. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2015 visit there was a quiet affair. At the time, Putin was coming under intense international pressure for his annexation of Crimea. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was the first European leader to host Putin after the invasion. In an effort to deepen energy cooperation, Moscow extended a ten billion euro ($10.7 billion) loan to Budapest to finance the Russian state firm Rosatom’s expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant in central Hungary, which supplies 40 percent of Hungary’s electricity.

When Putin travelled to Hungary again this February, it was under more triumphal circumstances. Standing next to the Russian president, Orbán spoke about a world“in the process of substantial realignment.” Before he left, Putin had agreed to finance the entire Paks project.

Moscow’s offer to Budapest was not a one-off deal; it was a material display of Russia’s emerging nuclear diplomacy. The Kremlin appears to be pressing its formidable nuclear market power to influence and bind countries around the world to its irredentist and revanchist aims. Unless the United States restores its leadership in the global nuclear economy, this scene could play out repeatedly for decades.

THE DEVELOPING WORLD GOES NUCLEAR

Although atomic energy is in steady decline in the EU, United States, Japan, and elsewhere, it is poised for growth in the world’s emerging economies. In an effort to combat climate change, ten countries accounting for more than one-third of the world’s energy demand—including three without existing nuclear programs—are already incorporating nuclear power into the climate pledges they made under the Paris Agreement. These include China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Asian countries alone are forecasted to increase nuclear power generation sixfold by 2040. And even India, whose climate strategy relies mostly on solar deployment, plans to boost its nuclear capacity eightfold. Although such plans might seem overly ambitious in the short term, they signal how some of the world’s largest countries plan to meet long-term demand for energy.

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What Russia’s Latest Protests Mean for Putin – JULIA IOFFE MAR 27, 2017


Police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Vladivostok, Russia.

After the largest demonstrations in years erupted across the country on Sunday, the Kremlin is fighting back.

MOSCOW— It’s not a rare sight in this city to see tens of thousands of people pour into the streets to express their opposition to the government that makes its home here. Moscow was the epicenter of the massive pro-democracy protests of 2011-2012, and many others since, including rallies to commemorate slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. This is the city where Vladimir Putin lives, along with the tens of thousands of people who make his machine of state hum. But given its wealth and cosmopolitanism, Moscow is also the most oppositional city in Russia. In 2013, it nearly forced the Kremlin-installed mayor into a run-off with a charismatic young opposition leader, Alexey Navalny. So in some ways, it was not surprising to see thousands heed his call to come out and protest here on Sunday.

But Sunday’s protest was different. Unlike the rallies in Nemtsov’s memory or even the 2011-2012 protests, this one did not have a permit from the Moscow city authorities. Over the weekend, the mayor’s office warned people that protestors alone would bear the responsibility for any consequences of attending what they deemed an illegal demonstration. But despite those warnings and despite the fresh memory of some three dozen people being charged—many of whom did prison time—for a protest in May 2012 that turned violent, thousands came out in Moscow. The police estimated attendance at 8,000, but given officials’ predilection for artificially deflating the numbers of those gathered at such events to make them seem less of a threat, the number could easily have been double that. People clogged the length of Tverskaya Street, one of the city’s main drags. The iconic Pushkin Square was packed, and people clung to the lampposts, chanting “Russia will be free!”

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F.B.I. Is Investigating Trump’s Russia Ties, Comey Confirms By MATT APUZZO, MARCH 20, 2017


The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday in Washington. Eric Thayer for The New York Times 

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, took the extraordinary step on Monday of announcing that the F.B.I. is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Mr. Comey’s remarks before the House Intelligence Committee created a treacherous political moment for Mr. Trump, who has insisted that “Russia is fake news” that was cooked up by his political opponents to undermine his presidency. Mr. Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said agents would pursue it “no matter how long that takes.”

Mr. Comey also dismissed Mr. Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor during the campaign, a sensational but unfounded accusation that has served as a distraction in the public debate over Russian election interference.

The New York Times and other news organizations have reported the existence of the investigation into the Trump campaign and its relationship with Russia, but the White House dismissed those reports as politically motivated and rallied political allies to rebut them. Mr. Comey’s testimony on Monday was the first public acknowledgment of the case. The F.B.I. typically discloses its investigations only in the rare circumstances when officials believe it is in the public interest.

“This is one of those circumstances,” Mr. Comey said.

Counterintelligence investigations are among the F.B.I.’s most difficult and time-consuming cases, meaning the cloud of a federal investigation could hang over the Trump administration for years.

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Soccer Hooligans In #Are Trained, Organized, And Violent: VICE News Tonight on HBO – Published on Feb 23, 2017


Soccer is known worldwide for its passionate fans, and every soccer-mad country has its hooligans who get sloppy and start brawls. But in Russia, these hooligans are trained, organized, and brutally violent.

These organized gangs of hooligans, referred to as “firms,” are becoming more prominent around the country. At the European Soccer Championship last summer, violent clashes in Marseilles showcased the professional fighting prowess of Russian hooligans.

Russia hosting the World Cup in 2018 has put pressure on law enforcement to crack down on the “firms,” who put close to 30 England supporters in the hospital after the 2016 Euro Cup.

VICE News correspondent Ben Makuch reports from Russia ,where he meets with some career hooligans. Despite having the support of some people in the government, the gangs anticipate significant disruption to their activities in the coming months.