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7.5 magnitude earthquake triggers tsunami warning for Russia

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck near Russia’s far eastern Kuril Islands on Wednesday, prompting a tsunami warning for the closest shores.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck 136 miles south-southeast of Severo on the Kuril chain north of Japan. It was 37 miles deep.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 620 miles of the quake’s epicenter.

It said earthquakes of this strength in the past have caused tsunamis far from the epicentre, and the US National Tsunami Warning Centre was analysing the event to determine the level of danger.

The US National Tsunami Warning Centre also still was analyzing the event to determine the level of danger for Alaska and the US West Coast.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was a stronger 7.8 magnitude and may cause a slight change of sea levels around Japanese coasts.

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Russia deploys chemical defense troops to Italy – Defence Blog

Russia reportedly is deploying its Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence or RChB Defense to Italy.

Russia has loaded nine Il-76 cargo planes that flew to Italy, with eight mobile medical teams, medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks. Moscow also sent about 100 military specialists in virology and epidemics, one special military laboratory and 20 mobile disinfection vehicles.

Mobile complexes with equipment for diagnosis and disinfection were delivered to the Italian Air Force Practitioner de Mare airbase, located 30 kilometers south-west of Rome, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

In photos released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, the doors of military trucks bore signs with heart-shaped Russian and Italian flags that read: “From Russia with love” in Russian, Italian and English.

Putin spoke to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, the Kremlin said, saying the Russian leader had offered his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to help the worst hit Italian regions.

Italy recorded a jump in deaths from coronavirus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.


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Sanders blasts Russia for reportedly trying to boost his presidential campaign

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday warned Russia to stay out of U.S. elections after American officials had told him Moscow was trying to aid his campaign, Trend reports citing Reuters.

“The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign, right now, in 2020. And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections,” Sanders told reporters in Bakersfield, California.

Sanders, 78, a democratic socialist from Vermont, is considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and is favored to win the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.

The Washington Post on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter, said U.S. officials had told Sanders about the Russian effort and had also informed Republican President Donald Trump and U.S. lawmakers.

It was not clear what form the Russian assistance took, the paper said.

A congressional source confirmed intelligence officials have told lawmakers Russia appears to be engaging in disinformation and propaganda campaigns to boost the 2020 campaigns of both Sanders and Trump.

The source, however, cautioned that the findings are very tentative.

Sanders, a U.S. senator, said he was briefed about a month ago.

“We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign,” he told reporters. “Look, here is the message: To Russia, stay out of American elections.”

“What they are doing, by the way, the ugly thing that they are doing – and I’ve seen some of their tweets and stuff – is they try to divide us up,” he said. “They are trying to cause chaos. They’re trying to cause hatred in America.”


The Kremlin on Friday denied Russia was interfering in the U.S. presidential campaign to boost Trump’s re-election chances, following reports that American intelligence officials warned Congress about the election threat last week.

U.S. intelligence officials told members of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in a classified briefing that Russia was again interfering in American politics ahead of November’s election, as it did in 2016, a person familiar with the discussion told Reuters on Thursday.

Since that briefing, Trump has ousted the acting intelligence chief, replacing him with a political loyalist in an abrupt move as Democrats and former U.S. officials raised the alarm over national security concerns.

A senior administration official, however, said the nation was better positioned than in 2016 to defend against foreign attempts to influence elections.

“President Trump has made clear that any efforts or attempts by Russia, or any other nation, to influence or interfere with our elections, or undermine U.S. democracy will not be tolerated,” the official said.

On Twitter, the president accused Democrats in Congress of launching a misinformation campaign that says Russia prefers him to any of what he called the “Do Nothing Democrat candidates.” Trump called it a “hoax.”

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Brussels extends Russia sanctions | New Europe

The European Union extended on 12 December the economic sanctions against Russia over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, for six more months.

The measures were first implemented in 2014 after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and were set to expire in January. According to the United Nations, about 13,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict.

The announcement follows the Paris meeting between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky. During the meeting, they agreed a ceasefire and a prisoner exchange, but failed to agree on other key issues.

The talks were mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, after the meeting, recommended an extension of the restrictive measures against Moscow, till the end of July 2020.

The EU’s economic sanctions against Russia include: limited access to EU capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies; export and import ban on trade in arms; export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia; as well as reducing Russian access to technologies that can be used for oil production.

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Trump scolds his FBI director after release of DOJ’s Russia probe report

Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general, found that although there were “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s requests for court-ordered surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, the bureau’s decision to launch the probe was adequately predicated and not influenced by political bias.

While Wray acknowledged and pledged to remedy errors in the FBI’s handling of applications for surveillance warrants, he told ABC News in an interview that he did not think law enforcement unfairly targeted the Trump campaign and said it was “important” that Horowitz found the FBI was justified in opening its investigation.

That assessment diverged markedly with Barr’s reading of the IG report. The attorney general asserted in a statement that Horowitz’s review “now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut tasked by Barr with overseeing a separate probe into the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, also cast doubt on Horowitz’s central judgment.

“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.,” Durham said in a statement. “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

The president sought to promote the IG report as a win for the White House, claiming that the 400-page document was “far worse than I would’ve ever thought possible” and detailed an attempted “overthrow” of his administration.

“They got caught red-handed, and I look forward to the Durham report, which is coming out in the not-too-distant future. It’s got its own information, which is this information, plus plus plus,” Trump said.

“And it’s an incredible thing that happened, and we’re lucky we caught them,” he continued. “I think I’m going to put this down as one of our great achievements because what we found and what we saw never, ever should … happen again in our country.”

Trump’s attack on Wray was hardly the first time the president has cast aspersions on senior law enforcement officials. The president has often condemned members of the “deep state” he alleges are embedded within intelligence community, and he repeatedly berated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the Russia probe.

The president appointed Wray to the FBI’s top job in June 2017 after the dramatic ouster of former director James Comey, which Trump later acknowledged in an interview with NBC News was influenced by the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation.

After the release of Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s handing of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in June 2018, Trump tweeted: “Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts. Christopher Wray will bring it proudly back!”

The president on Tuesday also railed online against Democratic lawmakers’ fast-moving impeachment inquiry, tweeting ahead of a news conference later in the morning by House committee leaders who are expected to reveal articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“To Impeach a President who has proven through results, including producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies ever, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness! #2020Election,” Trump wrote.

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Uzbekistan has potential to become second economy after Russia

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 3

By Fakhri Vakilov – Trend:

Uzbekistan’s economy may become the second in the post-Soviet space, said Russian Minister of Economic Development Maksim Oreshkin, Trend reports citing the Uzbek media.

At a meeting at the Higher School of Economics National Research University in Moscow Oreshkin noted that reforms were underway in Uzbekistan’s economy, and when Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power, there were many problems.

“Now they are being solved step by step, however, many problems remain,” said Oreshkin.

“However, in fact, I believe that Uzbekistan’s economy will be able to become the second economy in the post-Soviet space after Russia in about 20 years,” Oreshkin said.

The head of the Ministry of Economic Development also suggested students to visit Uzbekistan.

“I recommend everyone to visit Tashkent. Uzbekistan is a very beautiful country, so visit it in spring during student vacations.”

The fact that Uzbekistan is considering the issue of joining the EAEU became known during the October visit to Tashkent of the Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russia Valentina Matviyenko.

Later, the first deputy chairman of the Senate of the Parliament, Sadyk Safayev, said that Tashkent has been studying the possibility of joining the EAEU. He emphasized that no one exerts pressure on Uzbekistan in this matter.

In March 2019, Oreshkin at a meeting with President Mirziyoyev praised the ongoing large-scale reforms in the country.

The parties noted that the new multi-level format of the dialogue – the creation of a Joint Commission on bilateral cooperation at the level of prime ministers of the two states – will contribute to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation.

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Ukrainians Angry After Apple Changes Its Maps To Recognize Russia As The Owner Of Crimea

KYIV — If you want a guaranteed way to anger a Ukrainian, tell them Crimea belongs to Russia.

Ukrainian diplomats are lashing out at Apple after it gave in to Moscow’s demands to show Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as part of Russian territory on its maps and weather apps when accessed from Russia.

“IPhones are great products. Seriously, though, @Apple, please, please, stick to high-tech and entertainment. Global politics is not your strong side. #CrimeaIsUkraine,” tweeted the Ukrainian foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko.

Hours later, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington joined him in criticizing the tech giant.

“We guess Ukrainians not giving any thanks to @Apple this #Thanksgiving! So let’s all remind Apple that #CrimeaIsUkraine and it is under Russian occupation – not its sovereignty,” it tweeted.

Russia invaded Crimea with soldiers in unmarked uniforms and annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014, in a move that was condemned by the vast majority of the international community. In response, the US and EU slapped Russian politicians, individuals, and companies with sanctions over the land grab that remains in place today.

News that Apple had complied with Moscow’s demands was first reported by the BBC, which confirmed the Crimean cities of Sevastopol and Simferopil, as well as Crimea itself, were identified as Russian territory on Apple Maps and Apple Weather. It’s unclear when Apple made these changes.

However, when viewing Apple Maps and Apple Weather from outside Russia, including Kyiv, those cities and Crimea don’t show as being a part of any country. In those apps, which come preinstalled on all Apple iPhones, other global cities are typically listed with an associated country and state or region.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said in a statement on Wednesday that it had met with Apple’s Russia representative Daria Ermolina, whom it said had confirmed what Russia described as “inaccuracies” that had finally been “eliminated.”

“Crimea and Sevastopol now appear on Apple devices as Russian territory,” the Duma said in a statement.

It also cited Vasily Piskaryov, chair of the Duma security and anti-corruption committee, as saying that Apple had complied with the Russian Constitution.

According to the BBC, it was Apple that first suggested it could show Crimea as neither Russia nor Ukraine, but as undefined territory.

That’s the down-the-middle approach Google has taken. It shows Crimea as undefined and not belonging to Russia or Ukraine on its maps app. But Google uses the Russian spellings of Crimean cities and other notable places on its maps, rather than the Ukrainian spellings, when accessed from Russian territory.

This isn’t the first time Apple has made changes to its business following pressure from Russia. Earlier this year, Apple confirmed that it was storing some user data in Russia to comply with a local law that took effect in 2015, according to a Bloomberg report that cited a Russian government filing.

On Wednesday, Prystaiko tried to illustrate for Apple what the map change means to Ukrainians.

In 2015, Google Maps found itself in a similar scandal when it put a Chinese name on a shoal in the South China Sea, which is the subject of a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines. Google quietly removed the Chinese name, but not before Filipinos started online outrage campaigns demanding that Google stop associating the area with China.

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All new phones and computers in Russia must have secret government software installed in crackdown – The Sun

EVERY new phone and computer in Russia must have secret government software installed in a scary crackdown on freedom.

Russia’s lower house of parliament also today passed a bill granting government officials the right to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents.

 Who's watching over you in Russia? President Vladimir Putin's government will fine companies flouting the new law


Who’s watching over you in Russia? President Vladimir Putin’s government will fine companies flouting the new lawCredit: AFP
 Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products


Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products

Tass in Russia said that the State Duma adopted a bill on the pre-installation of Russian software on smartphones, computers, and televisions with “smart-TV function of applications targeted at the Russian audience”.

Politicians said the bill would “help promote Russian programmes in the information technology market”.

The new law will come into force on July 1, 2020.

Reuters explained earlier this month that the legislation would allow the government to designate certain locally-produced software as mandatory for devices sold in the country.

The lower house of parliament said the bill would also benefit Russian consumers, as it would spare them having to download domestic software after buying new technology.


The bill imposes fines for companies that sell devices without pre-installed Russian software of up to 200,000 roubles (US$3,155) starting from January 2021.

Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products.

In August, Russian internet group said it was in talks with Huawei about the possibility of having its software pre-installed on the Chinese firm’s devices.

Moscow is trying to expand control over the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries.

Last month, Russian internet giant Yandex expressed concerns over a draft law limiting foreign ownership in Russian IT companies to 50 per cent.


Foreign bloggers, journalists and social media users were also targeted by Russia’s lower house of parliament today.

The Associated Press reports that a bill has given the green light, allowing bureaucrats to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents in Russia.

The State Duma on Thursday almost unanimously approved a bill which extends an existing law involving foreign-funded media outlets.

That was adopted in 2017 in response to the decision by the US Justice Department to label the Russian state-funded RT television a foreign agent.

The new law can apply to anyone who distributes content produced by media outlets registered as foreign agents and receives payments from abroad.

The move has been criticised by many in Russia for restricting freedom of expression in Russia even further and allowing the authorities to crack down on dissent.


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