At Navalny’s call, the Russians challenged Putin from Moscow to Siberia

STORY – By tens of thousands, despite the cold that reached -50 ° C in Yakutsk, and despite the harshness of the police who made more than 3,000 arrests, the demonstrators demanded the release of the opponent.

Correspondent in Moscow

Supporters of Alexei Navalny have called for more protests after rallies that took place in dozens of Russian cities on Saturday, where more than 3,000 people were arrested by police. Clashes occurred with the police, including the “brutalityWas denounced by the European Union and the United States. A climate likely to worry the Russian power, which considers that the opponent imprisoned last Monday on his return to Moscow benefits from external support to create unrest.

«Freedom for Navalny ”; “Thief Putin“: The same slogans resounded Saturday, January 23 throughout Russia, during demonstrations organized at the call of the number one opponent of the Kremlin. In the capital, some 20,000 people, according to AFP (40,000 according to the Reuters agency), gathered around Pushkin Square, about two kilometers from the Kremlin, where they remained several hours before being there. dislodged at

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Kremlin: Putin and Biden agree to extend New Start policy

After the Kremlin announced, Russia and the USA reached an agreement to extend the New Start nuclear disarmament treaty. Corresponding diplomatic notes were exchanged today, the Kremlin announced on Tuesday evening. Previously, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden spoke on the phone for the first time since the inauguration of the new US president.

In the past few weeks, both sides had already declared their willingness to extend the disarmament agreement, which expired at the beginning of February, by five years.

The Russian parliament is now waiting for the relevant documents and will begin the ratification process immediately, said the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Duma, Leonid Slutsky. The Duma is ready to start work at any moment.

The New Start Treaty on the Limitation of Nuclear Weapons would have expired in a few days. The agreement, which came into force on February 5, 2011, limits the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States to 800 delivery systems and 1,550 operational nuclear warheads each. It was closed for a period of ten years and had the option of being extended.

If it had not been extended, there would have been no agreement for the first time in decades that set limits on the number of strategic nuclear weapons. Russia and the United States together own around 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. The government of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump was unable to agree on an extension with Moscow in months of tough negotiations.

In the phone call between the two presidents, Biden also expressed his concern about the way in which the imprisoned government critic Alexej Navalny was dealt with, said his government spokeswoman Jen Psaki. In addition, Biden emphasized the firm support for the sovereignty of Ukraine against the background of the ongoing “Russian aggression”.

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The Kremlin downplays the mobilizations in support of Navalni and accuses the US of interference

  • The presidential spokesman maintains that on Saturday “few people” came out to protest in Russia

  • Russian political leaders denounce the “interference” of the US and the EU in the country’s internal affairs

He Russian government does not face any problem of mass discontent among its population, the phenomenally Naval is being stimulated artificially by the foreign press and foreign powers are interfering with internal affairs of the State. This is, in short, the dominant reaction between the ruling class and the Russian establishment the day after the largest unauthorized protest demonstrations held in the eurasian country During the last years.

Through your spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin this Sunday downplayed the importance and size of the actions and rallies that took place the day before in about a hundred cities and small towns From Russia. “Now they will say that many people participated in the illegal action; no, it came out few people, many people vote for Putin “, has declared the presidential spokesman during an interview with the first television channel.

In turn, the official has emphasized that there is no possible “comparison” between the tens of thousands of people who took to the streets, whom he described as “Russian citizens” as well, and the millions of people which, according to official data, supported the constitutional reform put to a vote at the beginning of last summer. In said electoral consultation, according to the results provided by the Government, almost 75 million people, 78.5% of which did so in favor of amendments that make Putin president for life ‘de facto’. However, Russian independent NGOs they described the electoral consultation as the “least transparent” of all those held since the disintegration of the USSR, offering innumerable examples of “electoral manipulation“.

Alleged interference and support

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The alleged interference and support for protesters, in particular of USA and the EUis another of the ideas that authorities and leaders close to the officers have highlighted. Following the criticism of the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zajárova, to the behavior of the US embassy in Moscow, Peskov has become the second voice to censor the aforementioned legation. “Of course, it is a direct and indirect interference in our internal affairs,” he denounced. American diplomats have declared that they are watching the protests and have condemned the obstacles in Russia to the freedom of expression.

Despite the recriminations, the presidential spokesman has shown a conciliatory tone and has reached out to the Government of Joe Biden To start the bilateral dialogue. “If the current Administration is willing to do so, I have no doubt that the (Russian) president will respond appropriately,” he stressed. Russia was one of the last countries to congratulate the american president by your choice. In his annual press conference, Putin charged hard against the United States and threw numerous darts at the current leader of the White House that many analysts considered as veiled threats, in turn enhancing the figure and support obtained during the controversial presidential elections by the former president Donald Trump.

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Judgment of the Human Rights Court: Signal to Russia

A court finds human rights violations by Russia in the Georgia war. The country is not taking the judgments from Strasbourg very seriously.

Graves of Georgian soldiers during a memorial ceremony in Tbilisi in August 2017 Photo: David Mdzinarishvili / reuters

The news from Strasbourg will fill many Georgians with satisfaction. In 2008 Russia was jointly responsible for serious human rights violations following the fighting in the Georgian province of South Ossetia. That has now been determined by the European Court of Human Rights.

How delicate this case is is shown by the fact that it took the Strasbourg judges almost ten years to reach their verdict. With this verdict, the Kremlin’s narrative, the South Ossetians acting on their own, is also exposed for what it is: pure propaganda. In view of the recent legal defeat, this is likely to be the accusation that Moscow will make against the West.

The judgment of the Human Rights Court again raises the fundamental question of how Europe should deal with its eastern neighbor. Moscow reserves the right not to implement judgments if they conflict with the Russian constitution. Cases relating to Russia are by far the most frequently negotiated in Strasbourg.

It is also worth taking a look at Russia’s role in the Council of Europe, to which the Court of Justice belongs. Moscow responded to the suspension of voting rights in the parliamentary assembly because of the illegal annexation of Crimea by canceling its membership fees. And the Council of Europe? He drew his tail and resumed the Russian delegation in 2019. Supporters argued that Russian citizens could not be deprived of the opportunity to appear before the Strasbourg court.

Just a few days ago it became clear again how little Moscow takes this institution. The Russian representatives stayed away from a hearing on the case of the poisoned opposition activist Alexei Navalny. What to do? In any case, don’t muddle on as before. Unless the “guardian of democracy” would like to be demonstrated by Moscow in the future.

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In Ukraine, the tortuous routing of mail in separatist territory

The logistics are rather modest for an “international” postal center: a simple letterbox – number 12 – at the post office in Kouïbitchevo, a Russian village with no other particularity than being a small kilometer from the Ukrainian border. The routine is well established: every Tuesday, a truck stamped “Post of Donbass” comes to load the mail before discreetly crossing the border. Direction Donetsk, the most important city in eastern Ukraine, in a region controlled since 2014 by two pro-Russian separatist groups backed by Moscow.

Around two million people still reside in this disaster area cut off from Ukraine. And, to receive products from the outside, somehow manage. « We find everything we want here “, assures Alexander, a worker from Donetsk on the phone. « As long as you pay the price. » The 450-kilometer front line between the separatist region and the part of the Donbass still controlled by Ukraine complicates travel, impedes the transport of goods and encourages the black market. The coronavirus epidemic has only worsened the situation by causing the almost total closure of the crossing points that normally allow the population to pass from one side to the other.

No international recognition

When it comes to sending or receiving mail, the first hurdle is the status of the region. By seizing it in 2014, the separatists also seized the main state institutions, including the post office. OukrPochta (Ukrainian Post) turned into Pochta Donbassa (Post of Donbass) and was seen decked out with a double-headed eagle logo on a blue background, an almost exact copy of the seal of the Russian post. However, Moscow has so far refused to recognize their independence.

→ EXPLANATION. Between Ukraine and Russia, the relaunch of the peace process

Hence this sleight of hand that the Donbass Post Office details on its website: to send mail to separatist territory from abroad, you must enter the address of post office box n ° 12 in Kouïbitchevo, Russia therefore, followed by the address in the separatist zone. And avoid any mention of Ukraine, which does not control the region, or of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, which officially does not exist.

The service works, confirms Alexandre, but has a reputation for being slow, expensive, and unreliable. Locals often prefer to use the multitude of small hands who offer their services on social networks. Tatiana, a 31-year-old mother, was thus able to have a few jars of face cream delivered to her from Ukraine to a crossing point more than 200 kilometers away, then to Donetsk. A laborious process, each step of which represents an additional cost: in total, Tatiana paid 1,000 grivnas (€ 30) to receive her package. “It’s absolutely insane, she chokes. And if those delivering the delivery understand that your package has value, they can claim 20% of the package price! “

The impact of the epidemic

Because here more than elsewhere, the coronavirus epidemic has further complicated matters. If Tatiana’s package had to pass through the furthest crossing point from Donetsk, it is because all the others have been closed since March 2020. Only 21,373 crossings of the front line were thus made by Ukrainian civilians in October compared to over a million last year during the same period. A collapse of the passages that “Prevent people who are already vulnerable from having access to an education, a job, a pension, or seeing their families », the UN worried in a report.

With the quarantine measures, prices have exploded. « It’s been hard since the war started, but it’s even worse now », Alexandre worries. As the Russian border remained open most of the year, the crisis only increased the dependence of these regions on Moscow.

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The Donbass War, a frozen conflict

February 2014. After months of protests across the country, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych is being ousted from power.

Mars 2014. Annexation of Crimea by Russia.

May 2014. Separatists proclaim the independence of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions. Kiev responded by launching a military operation. Moscow supports the separatists.

September 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels sign a truce in Minsk, but clashes continue.

February 2015. The talks lead to the Minsk 2 agreement. The conflict loses intensity, but remains murderous in the years that follow.

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Nord Stream 2: Pros and Cons of the gas pipeline

Climate protectors have started to highlight the alleged damage to the gas pipeline for Europe’s climate protection efforts. This is how their argument works: Anyone who ties this pipeline to their legs today will bring fossil fuel into their home for decades. That should be prevented.

The argument comes to nothing. How much gas is consumed in Europe does not depend on the existence of pipeline infrastructures, but on the requirements of emissions trading: In the energy and industry sectors, the use of coal, gas and oil will decrease in line with the reduction paths of emissions trading. This is true with the pipeline as well as without it. In the heating and transport sectors, the price of CO2 is displacing fossil fuels. Investors bear the risk.

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Stopping the construction of the pipeline will not help the climate. By the way: The Russians would then – willy-nilly – simply send more natural gas through Ukraine to the EU.

Will the Pipeline Increase Dependence on Russian Natural Gas? No. Security of supply is not defined by where you buy, but by the possibility of changing sources. LNG plays a key role in this.

The damage to the five European companies that participated in the financing would be immense. Opponents of the pipeline may now object that you have to accept that in order to bring the Russians to reason. But Russia is likely to be angry at a construction freeze, but it will not suffer any real damage. Russian gas is a competitive product that can also be sold to Asia.

Anyone who wants to prevent Nord Stream 2 in order to secure transit income for Ukraine should better support Ukraine financially. Instead, forcing a supplier to use an ailing and climate-damaging infrastructure is a mistake.

Then there is the foundation set up by the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Opponents argue that the foundation is a front organization whose purpose is not environmental protection. A faint-hearted argument. The US is fighting Nord Stream 2 with a machete – and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is fighting with a foil. Who seriously wants to blame the state government for this?

Cons: Berlin got lost

From Jens Münchrath

How politically a disdainful gas pipe can be – Angela Merkel should have taken note of that once more these days. The Chancellor always wanted Nord Stream 2 to be understood as a project by private companies. As a project that has a lot to do with entrepreneurial considerations but nothing at all with major politics.

This form of trivialization was never conclusive. And at the latest with the US sanctions that Donald Trump enforced against the project in his last days in office and which his successor Joe Biden supports, the federal government should also be clear: Nord Stream 2 is one thing above all: a source of conflict. The pipeline divides Europe – not only the Eastern Europeans, but also the French viewed the project with great skepticism from the start. And of course Nord Stream 2 has a negative impact on relations with the USA. Especially now, when the new US President has finally given us the chance to restart the elementary transatlantic relationship.

As economically senseless as it may seem to stop an eight billion project in the last few meters, the collateral damage to the project and the unscrupulousness of the Russian government are now so great that Berlin should at least consider stopping it.

Right from the start, the project was based on political miscalculations: tying the German gas supply via another Baltic Sea pipeline to a Russia that, under Putin, was increasingly autocratic inward and imperialistic outward, was negligent in itself. Furthermore, giving Moscow the opportunity with the new pipeline to put Ukraine under pressure as a transit country for Russian gas has proven to be a strategic mistake.

Because Ukraine has always been dependent on Russian transfer fees – and the declared aim of German and European foreign policy was and is to protect the fragile and strategically important country from Moscow’s aggression.

Alienated European partners, a burden on relations with the USA and, on top of that, an economic strengthening of the Putin system – there is a lack of imagination to gain anything positive from Nord Stream 2. The federal government is hopelessly lost.

Nobody can understand the Berlin mix of sanctions against Moscow on the one hand and pipeline connection on the other. Incidentally, this applies regardless of the fact that the USA, with its aggressive course against the pipeline, also represents economic interests. America wants to sell its liquefied natural gas to Europe – in a market that Russia has more or less viewed as its own for years.

More: Is it correct that the EU has now reached an investment agreement with China?

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Pushkov speculated whether Putin should call Biden first

Federation Council member Alexei Pushkov in his Telegram commented on the statement of the White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the possibility of holding telephone talks between the presidents of the United States and Russia.

In particular, Psaki noted that she could not predict specific dates for conversations, adding that President Joe Biden always answers the phone when foreign leaders call him.

“The hint is clear and even too … But should Putin be the first to call Biden? Should we be above” conventions “? Of course, both Washington and Moscow are well aware: there are no conventions in foreign policy – everything is important here “, – explained Pushkov.

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After a year of exile, Ruslan Shaveddinov, Navalny’s right-hand man, returns to Moscow

He’s one of the men in Alexei Navalny’s shadow. As the anti-Kremlin lawyer prepares to return to Russia after a long recovery in Germany following his poisoning, Ruslan Shaveddinov has just returned to Moscow after a completely different trip.

This lawyer by training, openly opposed to the regime of President Vladimir Putin, had not left Russia. But, de facto, he lived as an exile in his own country. Ruslan Shaveddinov, 25 years old, including seven years with Alexeï Navalny, spent an entire year on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, in the Arctic Ocean.

→ ANALYSIS. Alexeï Navalny, Russian opponent without rival but not without criticism

It all started on December 23, 2019, when his Moscow apartment was raided and the young man forcibly taken for questioning. Direction in less than 24 hours: the far north and its military service, from which it should however be exempt. « They stole a year of my life from me. But I come back stronger. And even more angry », confides Ruslan Shaveddinov, a year after what he calls his « kidnapping “.

Continue the fight

Barely freed from his military obligations, back in Moscow, it was not long last month that he returned to his activities as an opponent. « The authorities wanted to scare me. And send a message to others: power can break your life, it is better not to get involved in politics! But I will not give this gift to power, I will continue the fight ”, explains Ruslan Shaveddinov, met in the headquarters of Alexey Navalny in Moscow.

He who lived a year, isolated in one of the few points of Russia, without any telephone connection and even less Internet, today finds with frenzy the joy of strumming on his mobile and surfing on social networks. With humor, he recounts his long days above the Arctic Circle, including eight months in a hut, admittedly well heated, but outside of everything. In the middle of ice and bears.

→ THE FACTS. A relative of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny arrested by police

« They came to our window several times a day. They are not dangerous as long as they do not believe they are in danger. », he says with a smile full of political overtones. Outside, it was minus 30º C. But the hardest part were the gusts of wind. At more than 30 meters per second, as the Russian formula says, « dogs could fly away ”.

Poisoning of Alexeï Navalny: the Russian secret services in the sights of an international investigation

A helicopter and some letters

Ruslan Shaveddinov found himself maintaining the barracks, one of the many bases of the Russian army in this Arctic which has become the Kremlin’s primary geopolitical stake. No real military mission, but a thousand maintenance jobs, carried out with another young man in service and their superior. The only link with the outside world: a helicopter that brings them food once a month. “Only canned food! Nothing fresh “remembers Ruslan Shaveddinov who, from his first hours in Moscow, went to buy fruits and vegetables. With the provisions, also came the books. During his long hours of rest, the young man devoured more than 70 of them. Also came letters, those from his mother and those from Kira Iarmych.

The young fiancée of Ruslan Shaveddinov, is a key figure in the Navalny galaxy, spokesperson and chief organizer. She was on the opponent’s trip to Siberia when he was poisoned this summer and then sent into a coma in Germany. She returned from Berlin to meet Ruslan Shaveddinov at Moscow airport. No sooner had he got into the car driving him home, than Kira was already starting to tell him everything that had escaped him in the midst of the ice and the wind of Novaya Zemlya.

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Navalny learned about Saturday rallies from the news of TV channels

Oppositionist Alexei Navalny, who is now in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center, knows practically nothing about the rallies in his support that took place on January 23, except what was shown on television. About it told his lawyer Vadim Kobzev tweeted.

The news on federal TV channels covered Saturday’s protests, accusing the opposition of attracting minors to rallies and brutality against law enforcement agencies.

On January 22, Kobzev said that the FSIN officers had forbidden him to bring the printed news about Navalny to the pre-trial detention center in order to read them to him.

In the first days after the arrest, the politician told his lawyers that the letters were not being handed over to him. After that they were given them to him and allowed to call his family.

On January 23, rallies were held throughout Russia demanding the release of the oppositionist. According to Navalny’s Headquarters, about 250 thousand people took to the streets. The police detained nearly four thousand people. More than 15 criminal cases were initiated.

Preview screenshot: Alexey Navalny / Twitter

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Vladimir Putin rejects Navalny’s allegations

Russia’s President Wladimir Putin According to Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny, he is said to have a luxury palace with a golden toilet brush. Putin rejects that. His critics are already mobilizing for new protests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected research into his alleged luxury palace on the Black Sea coast. “None of what is listed here as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and it never has,” Putin said during a video conversation with students on Monday. The research on the property was published by the team of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

See above or here the alleged secret palace of Putin.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Navalny’s allies called for renewed demonstrations on Sunday. “January 31, 12 noon. All cities of Russia. For Navalny’s release. For everyone’s freedom. For justice,” Navalny confidante Lenoid Volkov tweeted on Monday. You can see the aggressive behavior of the police here im Video.

Tsar’s palace with a golden toilet brush

Navalny has been uncovering corruption in the Russian power apparatus for years – and therefore has a particularly large number of enemies in the Russian leadership. In his latest unveiling video, under the title “A Palace for Putin”, Navalny’s team shows for the first time ever pictures, eyewitness reports and documents on Russia’s largest private estate. The Putin opponent believes it has been proven that the billionaire “Tsarist Empire” with its own ice hockey arena, helipad, casino, aquadisco and golden toilet brush belongs to the president. It is said to have been financed from bribes that the Kremlin chief receives from his friends in state corporations and from oligarchs.

The Kremlin had previously dismissed this as nonsense. But even days after the video was published with 70 million views by Saturday afternoon, no one has yet committed to the property on the Black Sea. According to sociologists, this should have further charged the protest mood in Russia, which is now widespread anyway.

Maas demands the release of demonstrators

According to civil rights activists, more than 3,500 people were arrested in more than 3,500 people in the nationwide protests for Navalny with tens of thousands of participants. There were numerous clashes between demonstrators and police. Many of Nawalny’s employees had also been arrested before the protests and sentenced to several days’ arrest.

On Monday, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas demanded the immediate release of the arrested supporters of Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny. “Even according to the Russian constitution, everyone in Russia has the right to express his or her opinion and to demonstrate,” said the SPD politician on Monday during discussions with EU colleagues in Brussels. The country has committed itself to adhering to the rule of law. Therefore, it is expected that those who protested peacefully would be released immediately.

Maas did not comment on possible reactions by the EU to the actions of the Russian authorities against Navalny and his supporters on Monday. Eastern Member States such as Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are particularly promoting a quick and clear reaction against Russia.

Next trial against Navalny in early February

Others, however, are more cautious and want to wait and see whether Navalny will be held longer. A final decision on new sanctions is therefore not expected this Monday. The next trial against Navalny is scheduled for February 2nd.

The Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said: “A free Navalny would be the start and also the opportunity for a new and better relationship between the European Union and Russia.” This would be good for Russia, Europe and the whole world. “Today and tomorrow we would talk about cooperation with Russia instead of about sanctions,” said Asselborn.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis suggested using a new EU sanctions instrument created last year to increase pressure on the leadership in Moscow. “I think it needs a clear and decisive message,” he said. The EU must make it clear that it will not tolerate human rights violations – regardless of whether they are committed in Minsk, Hong Kong or Moscow.

Lithuania wants Putin’s fortune

The new regulation enables the assets of actors who commit or benefit from serious human rights violations to be frozen. Entry bans can also be imposed on people. So far, human rights violations could only be punished in connection with punitive measures against states or within the framework of special sanction regimes that the EU has created, for example, in the fight against cyber attacks and the use of chemical weapons.

This has so far made it difficult or impossible for the EU to react to human rights violations – for example in the case of the cruel killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

Navalny: Sentenced to 30 days for the time being

Navalny was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment in Russia on Monday last week for allegedly violating registration requirements in previous criminal proceedings. The opposition politician had previously decided to return to his home country, although he was the victim of an attack there in August with the neurotoxin Novichok, which is banned as a chemical weapon.

Because of the attack on Navalny, which was then dealt with in Germany, the EU had already imposed entry and property bans on people suspected of being responsible in the vicinity of President Vladimir Putin last year on the basis of the chemical weapons sanctions regime. In Brussels, it is assumed that government agencies in Russia are behind the attack. Navalny himself sees a “killer squad” from the Russian domestic intelligence service, the FSB, under Putin’s command, behind the attack on August 20.

Putin and the FSB deny the allegations. Russia refuses to interfere in internal affairs and has responded to the EU sanctions with entry bans against representatives of the German government apparatus.

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