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A Colorado political aide punished for putting up portrait of Putin in the capitol building
Published: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 14:00:19 GMT

Katie March, assistant to Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran helped carry a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin into the state capitol. Duran told the Associated Press on Sunday, August 19 that March was subjected to disciplinary action for it.

March was chastised by the State Patrol and the House Representative’s office. She also lost the privilege of entering the Colorado Capitol building without passing security control.

In late July, March used her security badge to allow a member of the Colorado branch of the social organization ProgressNow to enter the building. They carried a portrait of Putin to the capitol and put it up on a wall near portraits of Barack Obama and other former US presidents.

Katie March issued an apology, saying that she considered the incident to be a "harmless prank" and didn’t expect that it would cause such a public resonance. ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii explained that the aim of the joke was to draw people’s attention to the "dangerous Russian influence on US President Donald Trump," AP news agency reports.

The Putin portrait appeared after reports that Republicans had not raised the $10,000 needed to purchase a Trump portrait, which was to be placed in the Colorado Capitol next to the portraits of past Presidents. At present, this amount has already been raised.

Russian agent Butina transferred to new US prison
Published: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:00:17 GMT

Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina, who was arrested in the US on charges of being an unregistered “foreign agent”, has been transferred to a new prison in Alexandria, Virginia, where Russian diplomatic staff paid her an emergency visit. She is in a solitary cell, all her personal effects have been confiscated, including hygiene items, towels, books and sneakers, the Russian embassy reported.

The Russian prisoner was transferred in shackles. “The stay in the capital prison ended with a degrading full strip search. It is outrageous that Maria was transferred in shackles. No one bothered to explain what was happening or where she was being taken,” the embassy stated.

The woman spent the next 12 hours in a lit quarantine room without sleep or food. From now on she will be held in administrative isolation, TASS reports.

“We have more and more questions for the American justice system. Should the allegations brought against her before the trial condemn Maria to practices that border on torture? One gets the impression that the US’s withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council was done to give the US authorities the green light for such provocations,” the embassy said in its statement.

The Russian embassy promised to continue to push for her release and to send a memorandum to the US State Department with a harsh evaluation of the methods used on the young woman. It demands that US citizens react humanely to the situation and treat Butina normally. The Russian diplomats expect Butina’s treatment to be condemned by human rights activists. They believe the US authorities are attempting to “break her will”.

According to Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, she was transferred to the new prison on the evening of August 17.

Kremlin reports on Putin-Merkel talks in Germany
Published: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 12:00:15 GMT

Russian Presidential Press-Secretary Dmitry Peskov told the Russian BBC service the key points of the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The leaders met on Saturday, August 18, at the Schloss Meseberg in Germany. This was Putin’s first first visit to Germany since 2014.

The negotiations reportedly lasted three hours. Putin and Merkel spoke for a long time face to face in the residence park. The leaders did not give a press conference at the end of the meeting.

According to Peskov, the parties agreed “not to politicize” the construction process of the Nord Stream 2 as pipeline, because it is supposedly “exclusively commercial” in nature. However, the German chancellor insisted on the importance of maintaining gas transit through Ukraine, as she said at the press conference before the talks. Peskov confirmed to reporters that this issue was discussed, but noted that the prospect of new US sanctions against companies participating in the Russian gas pipeline project was not brought up.

Putin and Merkel also spoke about Russian aggression in Ukraine. The German chancellor set out to discuss the prospects of deploying a UN peacekeeping mission in the Donbas and implementing a stable “school truce” from the start of the school year on September 1.

“Both sides expressed disappointment in connection with the total slipping of the process of implementing the Minsk agreements,” Peskov noted.

According to Peskov, the leaders of Russia and Germany discussed the situation in Syria “in great detail”. The Russian president insisted on the necessity of repatriating refugees, which would supposedly be profitable for Europe itself. He also tried to push the idea of getting the US and Europe to restore the regions of the country destroyed by Russian and Assad-regime forces (the Russian Armed Forces support the dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria).

“Assistance restoring the water supply, sewerage, assistance restoring medicine – the most basic things. I think that all are interested in this, including Europe,” Putin said.

Merkel, in turn, emphasized the necessity of holding elections first and implementing constitution reforms in Syria. She is also concerned by the possible humanitarian crisis in Syria’s Idlib Governorate.

Before the start of the talks, Chancellor Merkel also promised to bring up the nuclear deal with Iran. Berlin intends to comply with the deal, despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal. The Russian president concurred with Merkel on this matter.

The politicians were also supposed to discuss “current human rights issues” at the Meseberg. However, Peskov did not make any statements in this regard after the talks.

The Russian presidential spokesman also noted that Berlin and Moscow are both concerned by the recent tariff increases, although he did not mention the US specifically.

According to Peskov, the goal of the recent bilateral negotiations was not to achieve concrete agreements, but to have “useful, needed and timely discussions to synchronize watches”.

The German chancellor was also not expecting any special results from the “work meeting” with Putin at the Meseberg residence. Merkel and Putin had also met in May this year in Sochi.

Washington: US troops to remain in Syria until Islamic State is defeated
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 20:00:37 GMT

American troops will remain in Syria until the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has been utterly defeated. According to US State Department Spokesperson David Satterfield, this is what US President Donald Trump told Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump has repeatedly said that the US troops will leave Syria soon. He claims that nearly the entire country has been purged of IS.

However, as the US Defense Department stated at the end of June, IS regiments still control roughly 5% of Syrian territory, chiefly in the Euphrates valley. Estimates place the number of remaining jihadist fighters at 14,000. The Guardian cites US Special Envoy Brett McGurk as saying that the American military and its allies are preparing for the concluding phase of the operation against IS.

Roughly 2,000 American troops are deployed in Syria in territory not controlled by the Bashar al-Assad government. They are fighting against IS as part of an international coalition. In February this year, according to various estimates, from a few dozen to as many as 200 Russian citizens were killed in a clash with the US military – mercenaries in the so-called Wagner Private Military Company.

Earlier on Friday, the US State Department said that Washington does not intend to finance the restoration of Syria until a political process “meriting trust” is started in the country under the auspices of the UN. Most of Syria is controlled by Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the US accuses of war crimes.

Ukraine modernizes its Soviet-era anti-ballistic missiles systems
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 19:00:35 GMT

The State Space Agency of Ukraine has announced a tender for the modernization of its western center of electronic surveillance that used to be employed with the USSR missile defense system, the Ukrainian military portal reports.

The modernization of the center provides for the creation of the program control system of the 5Н86 radar station and processing of the radar information that will increase the accuracy of tracking the trajectories of ballistic missiles and the orbits of space objects. Zhytomyr Military Institute will lead the modernization effort.

Poroshenko signs law releasing Ukraine's defense industry companies from Russian debts
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 18:00:35 GMT

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed the law “On introducing changes to Ukraine’s laws concerning the resolution of several issues of the indebtedness of defense industry complex companies – members of the state concern Ukroboronprom – to the aggressor-state and/or occupant state and ensuring their stable development”, announced Poroshenko’s press service.

The law proposes mechanisms to protect the economic activity of companies in the defense industry complex, which are state property and have strategic significance, from the negative consequences of the actions of legal entities registered in the territory of the aggressor/occupant state, or legal entities with foreign investments from that state.

A ban is placed on the enforced implementation of rulings, including the recognition and implementation of the rulings of foreign courts, to collect debt in cases where the creditor is a legal entity of the aggressor/occupant state or a legal entity with foreign investments or a foreign enterprise of the aggressor state, and the debtor is a defense industry company on the list of facilities with strategic significance. While the circumstances of indebtedness to legal entities of the aggressor-state remain in effect, open court proceedings are suspended and new proceedings are prohibited, as well as the enforced implementation of decisions to collect debt from such a company in favor of a legal entity with said ties to the aggressor state.

Bankruptcy proceedings for defense industry companies are also not permitted when initiated by legal entities related to the aggressor-state.

The restrictions also affect obligations in which a party has been substituted (creditor, claimant) or there has been an assignment of the right of claim, resulting in the right passing to a third party, when the debt was initially incurred towards a legal entity of the aggressor state.

On July 12, the Verkhovna Rada passed the second reading of a law releasing the Ukrainian defense  concern Ukroboronprom from the obligations of the annulled military technology collaboration agreements with Russia. The bill was supported by 244 MPs. It is estimated that, according to the terminated agreements with Russia, Ukroboronprom companies would have to pay out 3.8 billion hryvnia.

Putin wants Europe to participate in the restoration of Syria
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 18:00:35 GMT

Before meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,  Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Europe “to contribute to the reconstruction of Syria to allow millions of refugees to return home.” 

"We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict,” he said. "By that, I mean above all, humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and help the regions where refugees living abroad can return to." According to him, there were one million refugees in Jordan, the same number in Lebanon, and three million in Turkey.

Germany has accepted hundreds of thousands of migrants since 2015, the height of the migration crisis, which has weakened Angela Merkel politically and split the European Union. "This is potentially a huge burden for Europe,” Putin said. "That’s why we have to do everything to get these people back home,” he added, emphasizing the need to restore basic services such as water supplies and healthcare.

Merkel, in turn, said that the priority in Syria was “to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe” but she did not give any further details. Putin and Merkel’s meeting lasted for three hours in private. 

Berlin: Germany will not give up energy projects with Russia because of the US position
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 17:00:33 GMT

Germany will not give up agreements with Russia in the energy sector, in particular, on the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline due to the US position, announced Andrea Nahles, the head of the Social Democratic Party, in an interview with the newspaper Funke Mediengruppe.

“We cannot afford to be dissuaded from our agreements in the field of energy policy only because the US President cannot accept this,” noted Nahles.

Earlier, it was reported in the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations that the new US sanctions against Russia that will come into force on August 22 threaten the cooperation of companies from the EU with Moscow in the energy sector. According to a provision of Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DAASKA) , restrictions will be imposed on both American and European companies. This concerns Russia’s partners in the field of investment and energy, including the participants in the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline.

In early July, US President Donald Trump announced that the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline would make Germany “hostage” to Russia. In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that Berlin will independently make a decision on this issue. 

On Saturday, August 18, Germany hosted a bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the meeting, the two leaders discussed urgent issues of international security, as well as the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.

Kyiv: Russian ship Mechanic Pogodin is detained in the port of Kherson for 3 years
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 16:00:00 GMT

Russian ship Mechanic Pogodin, which is on Ukrainian sanctions list, is detained in the port in Kherson for 3 years, stated the first deputy permanent representative of the President in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Izet Gdanov, reports Hromadske radio.

“On August 10th, this company’s vessel, namely the ship Mechanic Pogodin, was detained for three years in the port of the city of Kherson,” said Gdanov.

Earlier it was reported that the ship’s crew did not let a port inspection on board, who were responding to a complaint about unsatisfactory conditions.

Gdanov called such actions by the crew illegal and added that the sailors “in accordance with requirements by the current legislation, will be held responsible.”

He also noted that a repeat inspection of the ship will be attempted.

“Every country has the right and obligation to monitor the technical condition of the ship and if there are complaints (and there are complaints), the ecological condition. This is our responsibility as a government. We have law enforcement agencies that are required to provide governing bodies an opportunity to perform inspections in accordance with their authority. This will be done,” said Gdanov.

On August 10th, in the port of Kherson Mechanic Pogodin, flying the Russian flag was detained. This ship is on the sanctions list of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. The tanker, which allegedly was transporting goods for Canadian Company Oil Marine Shipping and Chartering Inc, was detained.

On August 11th, Russian ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova reported that the sailors on the ship Mechanic Pogodin. Also, Ukrainian authorities have not yet brought against them administrative or criminal charges.

On August 12th, the Ukrainian ombudsman, Lyudmyla Denisova stated that the Ukrainian Security Serve (SBU) of  and the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service have nothing against the sailors of the ship Mechanic Pogodin.

On August 17th, the Russian shipping company V.F. Tanker, reported that representatives of the SBU attempted to board the Mechanic Pogodin, for an inspection, but the ship’s crew did not allow them in.

Merkel: Ukraine must remain a gas transit country
Published: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 15:00:30 GMT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint press statement saying that they discussed the transit of gas to the European Union through Ukraine in the Meseberg meeting, Interfax reported on Saturday, August 18.

"In the context of Ukraine, we also talked about the transit of gas. I believe that even after the launch of the Nord Stream-2, Ukraine must continue to play its role in gas transit to Europe." I am very pleased that we managed to begin the negotiation process on this topic together with the European Union, "said Merkel.

In his turn, Putin stressed that the Nord Stream-2 is an exclusively economic project and he "does not close the possibility of continuing transit supplies of Russian gas through the territory of Ukraine."

"I know the position of the Federal Chancellor as she constantly raises this issue. I want to note that the main thing is that this Ukrainian transit, which is traditional for us, would correspond with economic requirements and be economical in all senses of the word,” summed up Putin.

The previous day, Merkel said that we should not expect breakthrough results from the negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to her, "this is a working meeting."

Earlier reports stated that Germany received permission to build the North Stream-2 branch. Gascade Gastransport GmbH received permission from the regulator of the federal state of Brandenburg to build the EUGAL gas pipeline on its 272-kilometer section territory. This gas pipeline is a land diversion from the Northern Stream-2 offshore mainline.



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