FSB Allowed to Shoot at Crowds to Prevent Terrorism Acts — Duma

Flag of Russia.svg

The Moscow Times

Dec. 22 2015 19:13

Last edited 19:13

Sergei Nikolayev / VedomostiFSB headquarters in Moscow

Russia’s lower house of parliament has approved a bill letting Federal Security Service (FSB) officers shoot at crowds, as well as at women and children under certain conditions, the Slon.Ru news portal reported Tuesday.

The State Duma passed the bill in the second, third and final reading at once. The bill changes the Federal Security service law, in order to give its officers more powers in using their weapons.

The bill proposes to give officers the power to use firearms against crowds of people to prevent acts of terror, including taking hostages and armed attacks on governmental buildings.

The amendments also allow FSB officers to shoot at women, children and disabled people in cases of a terror act or armed attack on civilians and law enforcers.

Moreover, the security service officers are handed the right to enter private property to “maintain public security in emergency situations and during mass civil unrests”.

To be enacted, the bill has to be approved by the parliament’s upper house and signed by the president.

Source : The Moscow Times

Sales of Elite Real Estate Boom in Moscow After Year of Stagnation

The Moscow Times

Dec. 04 2015 17:05

Last edited 17:06

Flag of Russia.svg

The experts attribute the growth in sales to the discounts for new housing being offered by developers.

After a slow year on Russia’s housing market caused by the country’s economic crisis, Moscow is starting to see a growth in sales of elite property, the Kommersant newspaper reported Friday, citing a recent report.

In November, the demand for elite real estate in Moscow rose by 25 percent compared to the same period last year and by 50 percent compared to October, according to the report by elite real estate consultancy Kalinka Group, Kommersant reported.

The experts attribute the growth in sales to the discounts for new housing being offered by developers and the amendments to the Tax Code — which increase the period of time after which the owner can sell the purchased property without having to pay taxes from three to five years.

The changes will come into force on Jan. 1, 2016.

This means that those who purchase the real estate before the end of the year can sell the property in 2018 without paying any taxes, or else will have to pay 13 percent tax on the cost of property or postpone its sale until 2021, Yekaterina Rumyantseva, chairperson of Kalinka Group’s board of directors, told the newspaper.

No more than 10 percent of potential investors are ready to wait until 2021, Rumyantseva added.

Source : The Moscow Times

Russia to build Korea DPR wind farms: report

Russia Korea DPR

Pyongyang and Moscow appear to be stepping up cooperation with each other amid their international isolation, as a Russian firm is reportedly poised to build wind farms over the next two years to supply electricity to impoverished North Korea.

Wind Power Monthly, a British magazine, reported Monday that RAO Energy System of East, the largest supplier of electricity and heating in the Russia’s Far East region, plans to build four wind farms, which total 40 megawatts, on both sides of the Russian-North Korean border.

Two wind farms will be built in the territory of the Russian Primorye region, to the north of the border with North Korea, and two others inside North Korea in the Rason trade and economic zone, the report said, citing Alex Kaplun, RAO’s deputy head of department of strategy and investments.

All the energy generated by the wind farms, which are expected to be officially commissioned in 2016 or 2017, will be supplied to the reclusive state, the report said. It also noted the possibility of further exports to South Korea and Japan.

The project to generate wind power for the electricity-scarce North came as the two countries have been struggling to cope with international isolation. Russia has been under criticism from the West for its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula last year while the North has been under sanctions for its nuclear and missile development.

The international community has carefully watched the development of Pyongyang-Moscow relations with concerns that the bilateral cooperation could undermine the international efforts to persuade the North to denuclearize.

The North Korean regime has been in desperate need of outside assistance to shore up its debilitated economy and secure public support to strengthen the young leader’s political legitimacy. After the deterioration of its ties with South Korea and China, the two core providers of economic aid, the North apparently turned its policy attention to Russia.

The Korea Herald

Vladimir Putin invites Kim Jong-un leader to Moscow next year

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Moscow next year, news report said Friday, in what would be the first overseas trip by Kim.

“It is true that such an invitation has been sent,” Russian state news agency TASS said, citing Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The invitation is timed for the 70th anniversary of the former Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

Still, it remains unclear whether Kim will visit Moscow for the annual celebration that falls on May 9 as other foreign leaders could attend it.

Kim has never visited a foreign country since he inherited power upon the death of his father and long-time leader Kim Jong-il in 2011.

The report came a month after Kim’s special envoy, Choe Ryong-hae, visited Moscow and met with Putin.

Informed sources said Putin invited Choe to visit Moscow in November. They did not elaborate and asked not to be identified, citing policy.

Choe’s visit came at a time when Pyongyang was struggling to find a diplomatic exit amid growing international pressure over its alleged dismal human rights record.

On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly formally adopted a landmark resolution calling for referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

Still, chances of an actual referral are slim because General Assembly resolutions, unlike U.N. Security Council resolutions, are not legally binding. The Security Council is expected to take up the issue as early as next week, but is unlikely to approve a referral as China and Russia — two veto-wielding powers of the council’s five permanent members — are sure to veto it. (Yonhap)


Source : Yonhap

South Korean corporate officials to visit North Korea as part of Pyongyang-Moscow venture



SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) — Officials from South Korean companies set to participate in an economic project between Pyongyang and Moscow will visit North Korea this week for an on-site inspection, the government said Sunday.

The unification ministry said 18 officials from three South Korean firms will visit North Korea’s northeastern port of Rajin from Tuesday to Thursday. The companies are state-run Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL), top steelmaker POSCO and No. 2 shipper Hyundai Merchant Marine. No government official will join the trip, the ministry said.

Their inspection is part of South Korea’s participation in the Rajin-Khasan development project, the Russian-led rail and port development venture in North Korea.

It’s designed to develop Rajin into a logistics center linked to Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway. Last September, a double-track railway reopened between Rajin and Khasan, the nearby Russian town, after years of renovation.

In their summit meeting in Seoul last November, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to help South Korean firms join the Rajin-Khasan project.

Also last year, Park unveiled her plan to expand economic cooperation with Eurasian nations, dubbed the Eurasian Initiative. The policy is built on the idea that exchanges between South Korea and Eurasian nations, in particular Russia, could help induce the reclusive North Korea to open up and alleviate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.



Source : Yonhap News Agency

Mayoral Hopefuls Make Final Push


The six Moscow mayoral candidates entered their final 48 hours of campaigning on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s election, meeting with journalists, voters and competitors in order to press home their campaign messages and attempt to discredit their opponents.

Anti-Kremlin protest leader Alexei Navalny and the Communists lashed out at President Vladimir Putin, while Liberal Democratic Party candidate Mikhail Degtyaryov joined Navalny in targeting acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, and liberal Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin took a swipe at all his fellow candidates.

Sobyanin is the clear front-runner in the race, with polling numbers consistently above 50 percent and Navalny a distant second. But some see a chance for a runoff, which Navalny says he is convinced he could win.

While detractors of Sobyanin, who is running as an independent but boasts the support of ruling party United Russia and the Kremlin, warn that his political apparatus could try to ensure a first-round victory by employing ballot-stuffing and other fraud techniques, a Vedomosti report this week said local authorities have told election officials to conduct a clean vote.

The report said officials have been instructed to thoroughly observe all formalities and not to restrict vote monitoring. If true, the authorities are “sending a positive signal,” according to Grigory Melkonyants, a senior member of prominent elections watchdog Golos.

“Elections officials may believe it and start observing the law,” Melkonyants said by telephone Thursday.

On Sunday, regional elections will also take place across Russia, with nine cities voting for mayors, seven regions casting ballots for governors and 16 regions electing legislative assemblies. The day before, Saturday, is a so-called “day of silence,” when campaign activities are restricted.

In the capital, most of the parties who nominated candidates for mayor will hold rallies combined with concerts on Friday afternoon in their final attempts to win over voters. Navalny’s campaign will hold an event at Prospekt Akademika Sakharova in the city center, while Sobyanin will attend a rally at Olimpiisky Stadium. LDPR and the Communist Party also plan to hold events.

At campaign events Thursday, candidates and their supporters issued verbal attacks on one another.

Navalny blamed Putin for attempting to harm his popularity, after the president said in an interview on state television Wednesday that Navalny “caused trouble” everywhere he appeared.

Putin told Channel One and Associated Press that Navalny had been accused by investigators of stealing a liquor factory, having “trouble with a forest” and failing to declare firms abroad, referring to various official investigations into Navalny.

“By doing this, the authorities are making desperate attempts to bring down my rating by several percentage points,”  Navalny told a news conference, Interfax reported.

Communist State Duma deputy Valery Rashkin, who is not a mayoral candidate, complained about parts of Putin’s interview as well, telling the City Elections Commission that the president violated election laws by speaking about Sobyanin’s polling numbers four days before the vote.

Election officials said they would look into Rashkin’s complaint, but Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that the president had done anything wrong, saying that Putin had to answer a question posed by a journalist, Interfax reported.

Novaya Gazeta might have dealt another blow to Sobyanin’s reputation, reporting that Moscow civil servants have been ordered to attend a rally on Sunday to mark Sobyanin’s expected victory, as well as to confiscate Navalny campaign materials. Navalny tweeted the Novaya Gazeta report.

But the acting mayor garnered praise from an unusual source Thursday: jailed former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who defended Sobyanin in a statement, saying that he had known him for a long time and that he was “not a bad person, despite being on Putin’s team.”

“It’s possible that this is a good political choice for Moscow,” Khodorkovsky wrote in a statement posted on his website.

But Khodorkovsky, a vehement opponent of Putin, still urged Muscovites to vote for Navalny, in order to “help an innocent person avoid a jail sentence,” even if Navalny “will not be allowed to become mayor.” Khodorkovsky was apparently referring to Navalny’s conviction on embezzlement charges, which the opposition leader plans to appeal.

Sobyanin, meanwhile, gave an interview to the pro-government Vechernyaya Moskva daily, calling on Muscovites to support him.

“We have to be together on Sept. 8. It is your voice that I need most,” Sobyanin said in the interview, which was posted on City Hall’s website Thursday.

Navalny, in turn, gave a wide-ranging interview to opposition-leaning Novaya Gazeta that was not published as of Thursday. The next issue of the paper is set to appear Friday.

LDPR’s Degtyaryov on Thursday blamed “the mayor and the regime” for “huge traffic jams, the growing number of cars [and] rain,” he wrote on Twitter.

Yabloko leader Mitrokhin wrote on his blog Wednesday that all the candidates “are dealing with Moscow’s problems because they have decided to run for mayor, while I [am running for mayor] because I am dealing with Moscow’s problems.”

Mitrokhin also met with voters at a Moscow book fair on Wednesday and Thursday.

Communist candidate Ivan Melnikov’s campaign released a music video Thursday in which a male voice recites a rap in support of the Communist Party.

The remaining Moscow candidate, Nikolai Levichev of A Just Russia, published a report Thursday about his debates from Wednesday with Mitrokhin and Melnikov on radio Govorit Moskva.

The Moscow Times

Band vai transmitir Miss Universo com Renata Fan no comando


Bem dentro daquilo que já estava previsto, Renata Fan vai fazer a apresentação do “Miss Brasil”, dia 28, em Belo Horizonte. E também foi escolhida para o “Miss Universo”, marcado para 9 de novembro no Crocus Coty Hall, em Moscou, na Rússia,… mas com transmissão daqui, dos estúdios da Band, no Morumbi.


Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery

Moscow Behind European Capitals in Terms of Life Quality

Muscovites are unhappy with the environment, including bad air quality.

Vladimir Filonov / MT

Muscovites are unhappy with the environment, including bad air quality.


Despite the government’s ongoing efforts to lure foreign investors to Moscow, the city remains behind most European capitals in terms of the quality of life, hampering its economic development.

More than a half of Moscow’s residents said they were not satisfied with living standards in the city — the highest figure compared with global capitals like London, Berlin and Paris, according to a survey released Tuesday.

A total of 64 percent of those surveyed assessed the quality of life in the city as poor, with 35 percent saying they are satisfied, consulting company Strategy Partners Group said in the survey. One percent of respondents were undecided.

The company compared those results with similar polls in European cities, concluding that the number of people satisfied with living standards in their city is the highest in Vienna, reaching 89 percent. Moscow is preceded by Warsaw, where 56 percent of residents assessed the quality of life as unsatisfactory.

Muscovites view poor environment, bad medical services and low affordability of housing as the key problems that have a negative impact on the quality of life in the city.

The survey by Strategy Partners Group, a subsidiary of state-controlled lender Sberbank, showed that 19 percent of the participants believe that ecological issues are the biggest problem in Moscow. A total of 15.4 percent said they were not satisfied by the quality of medical services, while unaffordable housing received 13.3 percent of the vote.

The consulting company surveyed 5,500 city residents living in all the 13 Moscow districts, who were asked to assess various aspects that make up the quality of life, with respondents also taking a negative stance on  factors like job opportunities, personal safety, transportation and school education.

Despite releasing the survey days before mayoral elections scheduled for Sunday, Strategy Partners Group said the poll was its own initiative and did not get the city’s financing.

Meanwhile, City Hall officials have repeatedly claimed that they had made the quality of life a top priority, acknowledging that there is still a long way to go.

“Moscow can be included in the top 20 cities comfortable for making money. But at the same time Moscow is at the bottom on the list of the 100 cities ranked by the quality of life,” acting Deputy Mayor Andrei Sharonov said earlier this year.

In the global competition for human resources, the quality of life is a critical factor, said Alexei Prazdnichnykh, a partner at Strategy Partners Group. A city comfortable for living tends to attract skilled people, which boosts its economic development, he told journalists at the company’s office.

At the moment the capital looks more competitive compared with most other Russian cities, but it is seldom preferred when it comes to comparison with foreign destinations, Prazdnichnykh said.

Many tend to exchange a higher salary in Moscow for better life quality in other big cities abroad, he added.

The Moscow Times

‘Migrant Camp’ Inspires New Facilities

The Federal Migration Service building in Moscow.

The Federal Migration Service building in Moscow.


The Federal Migration Service has drafted a bill to set up 83 new detention centers for illegal immigrants across the country as Moscow’s three holding facilities run out of space following a week of raids on city markets.

Some 1,400 alleged illegal immigrants from Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Syria, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Egypt were arrested last Wednesday, 614 of whom are now residing in a makeshift tent camp in the Galyanovo district in Eastern Moscow, while others are still in police precincts awaiting trial for immigration violations.

The raids began last Monday, with police inspecting Moscow’s markets for illegal immigrants as the result of a violent encounter at the Matveyevsky market on July 27 between the police and the relatives of rape suspect Magomed Magomedov. One police officer was hospitalized with a fractured skull as a result of that fight.

Anton Tsvetkov, the head of Officers of Russia,  an organization affiliated with law enforcement, said all immigrants that had been detained were being given meals three times a day — at a price tag of 60,000 rubles each day for the city. And even though the immigrants were not allowed to leave the camp area, he said, they could go for walks, take a shower and eat at any time they wanted, in conditions he said were much better than those they lived in when they were “literally in slavery.”

The camp is located behind a huge fence on the territory of a warehouse, in which, according to police, most of the immigrants worked and lived. There are two areas of tents, with males and females separated. The men have bunk beds and the females single beds. Most of the women said it was difficult for them to stay in the tent, though they could not say what specifically made it difficult — though several of the women were visibly pregnant.

As for a typical day in the camp, there is no official schedule; most of the immigrants just sit by their tents or inside the whole day.

There are four showers and a place for washing clothes, as well as a kitchen.

According to Tsvetkov, the conditions are better than what most would expect when hearing the phrase “deportation camp.”

“Such conditions are very good, the camp was organized by the Emergency Ministry that has an experience of creating such temporary camps,” he said.

Tsvetkov said that in order for the Vietnamese immigrants to come to work in Russia, they had to pay $2,000, but as most of them didn’t have money, they wound up becoming slaves instead — a modern day indentured servitude. The scheme was organized by Vietnamese citizens, he said, and likely with support from the Vietnam Embassy in Moscow.

Representatives of Officers of Russia stressed that most of the immigrants had no passports, because they were taken from them by their employers, which is another common practice in such slave-labor schemes.

On Monday morning, a Vietnamese woman’s 11-month old child was taken to a hospital by police for medical examination. The child had been living in unsanitary conditions at an illegal clothing factory.

The child’s mother said she didn’t know why her child was taken away, however. Representatives of Officers of Russia said they would find out the location of the child after journalists began asking.

Most of the immigrants interviewed by The Moscow Times denied that they were slaves, saying that they considered their stay in Russia legal.

Makhamat Yunos, an Afghani native, said he had refugee status and had been living in Russia for six years, but police refused to consider his documents, and a court issued him a fine of 2,000 rubles and ordered deportation.

Nusrat, from Tajikistan, said he had been working in Russia as an electrician and had a legal work permit. He said he was detained by police while on his way to work, not far from the Izmailovskaya metro station. After a court ruled to deport him, he told police he had enough money to leave the country, but he was put in the camp before he could do so. He said his wife and children lived with him in Moscow.

Most of those living at the camp also said conditions were poor, as they didn’t get much food and the food that they did get was bad. In addition, they said, conditions were making it difficult to keep good hygiene.

Officers of Russia delivered two tons of rice and noodles to the camp on Monday, as well as toothbrushes and shampoo.

The new supplies may ease the concerns of representatives of the Vietnam Embassy, who called conditions at the camp inhumane after visiting over the weekend.

But while the donations from the Officers of Russia may have helped improve one condition at the camp — hygiene — there were widespread concerns about another, prompting both the Kremlin’s human rights council and the Vietnam Embassy to voice their dissatisfaction.

“It is inhumane to put 40 people in one area of 50 square meters,” the Vietnam Embassy’s top official, Lee Ho Cheong, said Monday, Interfax reported.

Tsvetkov said that those immigrants kept in the camp had already been slated for deportation, and the court’s decision would come into effect in 10 days. But they wouldn’t be able to leave the camp without documents, and the terms of their deportation depended on the Vietnam Embassy, which must provide them with new passports.

Human Rights Council member Vladimir Shaposhnikov said the council was concerned by another matter, however, namely how long the immigrants would live in the camp before they could leave.

However long it takes though, Russia has agreed to foot the bill, Tsvetkov said. It is expected to cost more than 30,000 rubles of budget money for each immigrant.

The Moscow Times