Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (82)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting. 

Arkady Babchenko is alive. The best part is the Russian handler of the “assassin” was captured in a masterful sting operation by Ukraine. Ouch. Oh, Russia, such embarassment. You used to be professional. 

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Russia has been leading media traffic today with two major topics, the first being the professional hit on accomplished war correspondent and Putin critic, Arkady Babchenko, in Kyiv, and the deluge of Russian claims that the Ukrainians did it to blame Mother Russia, and of course the matter of MH17, following Amb Haley challenging Russia in the UNSC. Russian denials and blameshifting follow the typical pattern, wherein every Russian sin is attributed to others, while Russia revels in outrage over the brazen global persecution of the greatest victim of all, Russia. Some interesting observations on Russia by The Forbidden Opinion, and by Kurilla exploring the Russian Nuremberg defense, Yakovenko on zombification, and Baranov on the “hybrid” state.

The Babchenko murder has produced significant coverage in the global media, we cited his work many times in the past. A short time ago the SBU Chief Hrytsak and Prosecutor General Lutsenko gave a public briefing, including a very much alive Arkady Babchenko, as the “hit” was part of a sting operation by the SBU to apprehend the Russian covert ops team organising a real hit on Babchenko. The Russian handler was captured. Probably the best summary of sentiment in Kyiv following reports of the assassination was by a cabinet member, Volodymyr Omelyan“The goal of the barbarian empire is to destroy everything that they’re unable to conquer, understand or steal. To do this, they murder people by the tens of millions and lie without end. Concentration camps across the empire and assassins around the world that systematically murdered those who managed to escape their hellish reality. Ice picks in Mexico City [Ed: Leon Trotsky hit in 1940]. Poison in Paris, Prague, London and Berlin. “Accidental” deaths and simple bullets. Sudoplatovs [Ed: NKVD assassin], Stashynskys [Ed: KGB assassin] and legions of others – names we only know because even murderers sometimes defected. In our struggle, we are paying a terrible price to earn our freedom. Perhaps some Western politicians don’t mind shaking the bloody hand of the Kremlin imp. I guess they’re lucky that the muscovite hordes haven’t brought the fight to their quiet European streets – yet. The Kremlin and Moscow can’t be reasoned with. They can only be burned. The war never stops, regardless of what illusions you may be seeing at this moment.” 

UNIAN Photo

The Russians produced an immense volume of propaganda to dispute Amb Haley’s challenge over MH17. Down Under, home to 38 of the victims, former PM Abbott calls for the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador, arguing that ‘no one can kill Australians with impunity’ – the sad truth is that Australia has not pursued the easiest route to get payback against the Russians, by supplying surplus military hardware as aid to Ukraine, especially lethal hardware. Rhetorical attacks generally produce no effect in Muscovy – but body bags do.

More followup reports on Salisbury.

A great many reports on multiple threads related to Iran, Syria, Israel and Russia. The big question many are now asking is what did PM Netanyahu say to the Vozhd to compel Russia to turn on Iran in an unprecedented manner, and so quickly. Given the Tehran regime’s track record for duplicity, it would not be unreasonable to speculate that the Israelis enlightened the Russians to something Iran was hiding from them successfully, that would be very damaging to Russia. Exactly what remains to be disclosed.


Kremlin Rejects Any Russian Role In Babchenko Killing

Officials in Moscow have rejected allegations by Ukraine that the Kremlin was behind the killing of a dissident Russian journalist in Kyiv.

Russia, Ukraine React to Death of Slain Journalist Arkady Babchenko

Arkady Babchenko, a prominent Russian investigative journalist who left the country over fears for his safety, was shot dead in Kiev late on Tuesday. Babchenko, 41, had covered numerous conflicts in the region as a war correspondent and was highly critical of the Kremlin in recent years. He reported receiving death threats and was denounced by pro-government politicians in Russia over his comments on the Syrian and Ukrainian wars. He died after being shot three times in the back on the doorstep of his apartment in Kiev. Russia and Ukraine have launched separate investigations into the murder amid mutual accusations.

Assassination Of Kremlin Critic Arkady Babchenko Coverage – To Inform is to Influence

Russia’s first line of defense in any situation which reflects negatively on Russia: deny, deny, deny. Russia denies involvement in murder of journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko Then, doubling down in today’s Sputnik, Russian President’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, “We strongly condemn this murder. We hope for a real, rather than sham investigation to identify those behind this murder,”…

Russia says won’t be pushed around over downing of flight MH17 | Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday it was inappropriate for Australia and the Netherlands to issue Moscow with ultimatums over compensation for relatives of people killed in the downing of flight MH17, RIA news agency reported.

Putin denies Russia’s responsible for downing of MH17 – Daily Mail – YouTube

Moscow can’t accept ‘unfounded conclusions’ on MH17 downing – Russia’s UN envoy — RT World News

Russia’s UN envoy has rejected the “unfounded conclusions” of the Netherlands and Australia, which claim Moscow was “responsible” for the deployment of a BUK missile system that downed flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.

Russia refuses to take responsibility for MH17 downing

Russia has rejected calls at the United Nations to accept responsibility for the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, after an international investigation found that a Russian army missile was used in the attack.

Journalist, Activist on JIT Report: Poor Evidence, Bias and Convenient Timing – Sputnik International

JIT investigators have announced that they have hard evidence that the missile system that shot down MH17 over Eastern Ukraine belonged to Russia. The Russian Ministry of Defense has slammed the report as being based on “old fakes.” Sputnik discussed the new “revelations” with political activist Anneke de Laaf and journalist Joost Niemoller

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Lavrov: Missile used to down MH17 was not launched from area mentioned by investigation

The foreign minister pointed out that the Joint Investigation Team had rejected «all the documentary evidence that Russia presented more than once»

Timing of New MH17 Accusations Clearly Linked to FIFA World Cup – Journalist – Sputnik International

Ulrich Heyden, Russia-Ukraine correspondent for German Media “Der Freitag” and “Telepolis,” has spoken to Sputnik about the new accusations against Moscow with regard to the 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) investigation is one-sided.

Russia Demands Release of Satellite Images That the U.S. Released 4 Years Ago

Challenging the Joint Investigative Commission’s conclusion blaming Russia for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, Russia’s Foreign Ministry demanded the U.S. rele…

Russian ambassador rejects demands for MH17 compensation | Daily Mail Online

Russia’s ambassador to Australia has rejected demands from the federal government it pay compensation to the families of the 38 Australian victims of downed plane MH17.

Russian ambassador rejects push for compo for MH17 victims’ families – Politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The Russian Ambassador does not accept Australia’s demand for compensation for the families of the MH17 victims, and accuses the Joint Investigation Team of relying on evidence from ‘tainted’ organisations.

Russian Embassy criticises Mikser’s support of MH17 report | News | ERR

The Russian Embassy in Tallinn on Tuesday criticized Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE), who recently stated that the international investigative committee report regarding the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) above Eastern Ukraine in 2014 was clear evidence that the Russian Armed Forces were directly involved in the downing of the aircraft.

Kremlin Says U.S. Military Presence In Poland Would Undermine European Stability

The Kremlin has expressed concern over reports that Poland has requested a permanent U.S. military presence on its soil, saying NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders undermines stability in Europe.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: For Ever More Russians, Putin’s Actions in Syria and in Ukraine are Foreign Policy Failures

Paul Goble Staunton, May 28 – Many in the West view Vladimir Putin as a foreign policy mastermind who has completely outplayed everyone else in advancing his goals; but inside Russia, many people believe that he is not a success but a failure in foreign policy and point to the situation in Syria as Exhibit A. According to the Telegram channel The Forbidden Opinion in fact, recent Russian losses in Syria make it clear that “it would be hard to imagine a scenario in which foreign policy would look worse than it does under Putin” (t.me/TheForbiddenOpinion/1792, reproduced at kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B0B935BE42D8). Syria is “a dream for an experienced gamer” given that there are now “dozens of various formations which are pursuing their own selfish interests” and that “a sovereign Syria doesn’t exist.” In this situation, “Putin from the beginning changed allies with such speed … that you can’t now figure out who is right and who is guilty,” The Forbidden Opinion says. Losses continue to mount but there is no resolution in site. And even Russian experts are now warning Putin that he is going to “’get burned’” as a result. But this simply highlights a bigger problem: “’the successful foreign policy of Putin is an absolute fake and a propaganda lie,” something ever more Russians are recognizing. Some still like to say, the channel continues, that “’Putin is weak in domestic affairs but on the other hand good in foreign policy.’” But that is absurd: How can one consider the policy of a man who has gotten Russia into conflict with the whole world a success?’” “If such ‘achievements’ are considered a success, then what could one consider ‘not a success’?” The Forbidden Opinion asks. “Putin is not the greatest world strategist. In the past, he was a frustrated political figure with a chronic complex of incompleteness and now is a complete political corpse.” But he is “a course which they have forgotten to bury in a timely fashion and therefore he continues to sit on the throne and foul the surrounding air.” Another Telegram channel, SerpomPo, makes similar points. Noting that “it is difficult to say what Putin’s Syrian adventure means for the citizens of Russia today,” it points out that it is equally difficult to say what Russian forces are doing in Syria now besides taking losses (t.me/SerpomPo/683 reproduced at kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B0AF0D2C8937). “Russian society doesn’t know anything” about what is going on or what the prospects are for the future, the Telegram channel says. “Judging from the fact that Putin has decided to keep two Russian bases in Syria … our country is tied down in Syria if not forever than for an indefinitely long time.” “The Syrian war, just like the war against Ukraine in the south of this country, long ago was transformed into ‘a gray zone.’ This transformation typically takes place without much thought by one of the sides of the conflicts. That was the case with the Afghanistan war for the USSR; the same thing is now occurring in the east of Ukraine,” SerpomPo continues. “Goals have been lost; there is no meaning, but there is a war and one without any end.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Must Recognize that Responsibility and Guilt Aren’t the Same Thing, Kurilla Says

Paul Goble Staunton, May 29 – Many Russian officials and following them many Russians believe that guilt and responsibility are the same thing, a mistaken view that allows them to assume that unless they are obviously personally guilty, they bear no responsibility and can ignore what is done in their name or on their behalf, Volgograd historian Ivan Kurilla says. First of all, “responsibility is not equal to guilt,” he points out. “Guild lies on immediate participants who give criminal orders and carry them out. On other people, even those who approve these actions in the course of some pro-government meetings, there is no guilt” (rosbalt.ru/posts/2018/05/28/1706415.html). In addition, Kurilla argues, “guilt is an objective and external phenomenon: a court can establish it despite the opposition of the accused.” Moreover, “there is no such thing as ‘collective guilt’ as the level of participation in crimes among all participants always varies and the guilty are always a minority of the population.” But the situation with regard to responsibility is different. “It cannot be imposed by an external court.” It is a sense of being part of something larger regardless of one’s own actions. “If there is a basis for pride in the Victory over Nazism, the first sputnik or Gagarin, then there is one for feeling responsible for Katyn or the suppression of the Prague Spring.” Second, Kurilla says, “to acknowledge responsibility is not the same thing as ‘to repent.’” “Responsibility is an internal category: it is impossible to impose it.” And thus when something is done in the name of the Russian people or state that one does not want to take responsibility for, one should try to do something to change the situation. “The position that ‘we weren’t asked,’ ‘we didn’t choose them,’ ‘this is the regime and not us simple Russians’ is an evasion, although at first glance it seems logically true. The mistake here is that it starts from the impossibility of changing anything by personality activity or resistance.” According to Kurilla, “the acceptance of responsibility is the first step to changing reality. That is, this is not about ‘repentance;’ it is rather about shame.” And third, the historian continues, “the acceptance of responsibility is not the same as ‘smearing’ guilt over the entire people.” For example, all who were delighted with the annexation of Crimea even if they were later less now are not guilty by that fact; but they must recognize that they bear responsibility for it. And that they have to work to change things.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Chief Beneficiary’ of Putin’s Aggression in Ukraine and Syria is Moscow TV, New Poll Shows

Paul Goble Staunton, May 27 – There have been innumerable surveys of Russian attitudes over the last decade, but most of them have been limited in their value by the fact that participants likely answered some of the most important questions by saying what they believed those behind the polls wanted to hear, Igor Yakovenko says. But two polls, one taken in 2010 and a second just now by the Levada Center asking Russians to identify those things which give them the greatest satisfaction and joy do not suffer from that limitation, he continues; and they show that “a small revolution” has taken place in Russian preferences (ej2018.ru/?a=note&id=32512). In the two years, Russians were asked to identify those things that gave them the most pleasure and joy. (They could identify more than one.) In 2010, 28 percent said watching television did; in 2018, 34 percent; in 2010, 33 percent said a good income; in 2018, 26 percent. In 2010, 17 percent said eating well; in 2018. 24 percent. Most obviously, these results show that “watching television instead of receiving a good income is the essence of the mental revolution over the last years. And thus the answer to the question – who has become the chief beneficiary of the occupation of Crimea, the war against Ukraine and Putin genocide of Syrians? – is television. Among the losers in this list are “the Russian economy, business, the standard of living including the overwhelming majority of the so-called ‘elite,’ and civil society.” Among the beneficiaries,” in addition to television, are “the siloviki and the defense sector. “It is possible,” Yakovenko says, “that the most important part of the mental consequences of ‘Crimea is Ours’ are connected with the attitude of Russians toward work.” The share saying working at full capacity received 19 percent of the answers in 2010, putting it in fifth place, but only nine percent eight years later landing it in 21st. “The growth in the love of Russians for television has even eclipsed sex.” Fifteen percent of Russians listed sex as a favorite activity in 2010, but only 12 percent did so in 2018. Consequently, “the expression ‘Russia is married to Putin’ is gradually losing the character of an ironic metaphor.” Yakovenko sums up: “Television, having become the chief joy … has sharply reduced joy from getting good money, completely destroyed the view of work at full strength as a satisfaction and reduced to a minimum the joy of sex.” TV may have helped Putin build power, but it is now getting in the way of his demographic and economic goals.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s ‘Hybrid’ Regime Infantilizing Citizens, Mercantalizing Elites, Baranov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, May 29 – Russia’s “hybrid” political system, one based on a combination of democratic and authoritarian elements that have led to a super-presidentialist arrangement that leaves little or no political room for any political action by either the population or the elites, has infantilized citizens and mercantilized elites, Pavel Baranov says. Other than voting for the president, something that happens only once every six years, the population is reduced to being observers of the system rather than participants, the legal specialist at the Southern Russia Institute of Admdinistration says, and is infantilized by a propaganda system that stresses foreign challenges rather than domestic issues. And kept from playing a political role by the absence of checks and balances that elites in other countries use to advance their own interests, Baranov continues, Russian elites are left with only one possible course of action: the pursuit of mercantilist economicadvantage (ng.ru/stsenarii/2018-05-29/9_7234_constitution.html). As a result, he says in a detailed analyst of the constitutional and historical elements that have allowed this system to develop, neither the population nor the elites are in fact directly engaged in politics aat least in the normal sense and thus cannot be analyzed in the way that the actions of masses and elites are in other systems. That in turn means that neither the one nor the other currently has the opportunities to develop into politically effective players but instead is prepared to accept its situation, as observers of the defense of the country in the case of the mass population and as economic actors concerned only with their own enrichment. Baranov does not say but his analysis implies that the longer the Putinist super-presidentialist system survives, the more difficult it will be for either the population or the elites to recover and play their normal roles in the development of a more participatory political system.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Moscow Paper Asks a Most Inconvenient Question: ‘What is the Secret of Estonia’s Success?’

Paul Goble Staunton, May 27 – The independent Moscow newspaper Novyye izvestiya points out that the average pay in Estonia is now “about 1800 euros” while in Russia, despite all its natural resources, it stands at “about 500 euros” – and points out that if Russia didn’t have those resources, its average pay would be “approximately 290 euros.” Acknowledging that this is “an enormous civilizational divide,” the paper says that it is surprising that despite this lag behind Estonia and other countries, the paper notes “Russia very much likes to criticize and denigrate more developed countries” (newizv.ru/news/world/25-05-2018/1800-evro-protiv-500-pochemu-estoniya-zhivet-namnogo-luchshe-rossii). And Novyye izvestiya then asks a most inconvenient question: “What is the secret of Estonia’s success?” Its answer is worth quoting in extenso: “At the base of the Estonian economy lies the rational Scandinavian mentality of the people, a Protestant work ethic, and one of the lowest levels of corruption in the world … And although in the Baltic there is not even one tenth of one percent of the natural wealth which exists in Russia, these countries live and are developing better and more rapidly than Russia. “All these years the countries of the Baltic are making up for lost time, and this is clear from their roads, their rates of pay, and their healthcare. The agricultural sector is developing, new production is coming online even though they have neither gas, not oil, nor diamonds, nor anything.” “If the Baltic countries had not been occupied in 1940 by the Russians, their average pay would be today twice as high as it is. It is generally considered that the level of 2000 euros make a state flourishing. Finland is at that level, a country which is today one of the richest in the world which defended itself from Soviet occupation by a war in 1939-1940. “As a result of occupation and colonization, in 1991, 48 percent of the population of Latvia, 39 percent of the population of Estonia, and 15 percent of the population of Lithuania consisted of Russian colonists. Resistance to Russian occupation lasted in Lithuania until 1954, a resistance that was crushed only by two entire divisions of the USSR regular forces. As a result, about 40,000 people died. “After the recover of independence in 1991, the small Baltic countries, burdened down by the colossal ballast of Russian colonists, were able successfully to integrate themselves into the European community. The Russian Federation [in contrast] is proceeding along its own ‘special path.’ “According to the corruption indices compiled by Transparency International, Russia is among the 50 most corrupt countries of the world. Nevertheless, Russian propaganda continues to denigrate the Balts, spreading false information about them [regarding corruption where they are among the least in the world as well as on other issues]. “Russians especially love to talk about the EU aide which the Baltic countries receive and which are used as intended rather than going into someone’s pocket as this would be customary in the countries of the CIS. “It is also curious that many of the Russians living today in the Baltic countries up to now do not trouble themselves to learn the state language of their country and do not feel any gratitude to these countries. “They only complain about the difficult life and poor state of the powers that be, not suspecting for a minute that the problem lies within themselves. With pleasure, they tell tales about how Europe being on the brink of collapse and how Russia and Belarus are flourishing – even though they aren’t attracted by Russia and prefer to ‘rot’ in the European Union.”

Bill Browder, British-American businessman, calls Spain arrest “political persecution from Vladimir Putin” in Russia – CBS News

Bill Browder was once huge investor in Russia, now says detention was direct result of &quot;high-level political persecution from Vladimir Putin&quot;

Kremlin Critic Bill Browder Briefly Held on Russian Warrant in Spain – The Daily Beast

Corruption campaigner in custody for an hour.

Nikki Haley calls on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine – CNNPolitics

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and acknowledge its alleged role in the 2014 downing of a commercial plane, following a recent flare-up of violence in the conflict.

Haley slams Russia’s ‘outrageous’ actions, calls for it to leave Ukraine | TheHill

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday slammed Russia’s military involvement and actions in Ukraine, calling on Russia to withdraw from the country amid a recent escalation in tensions.

Russia criticized at UN over Ukraine conflict, Crimea, crash | Fox News

Russia has faced sharp criticism in the Security Council over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea, and an investigation linking the Russian military to the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine.

Russia Under Fire At UN Over Downing Of MH17

Russia has rejected calls at the United Nations to accept responsibility for the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine after an investigation found that a Russian Army missile caused the explosion th…

Russia Faces UN Criticism Over Role in Downing of Malaysian Jet – Bloomberg

Russia faced harsh criticism at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for its role in the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and for its continuing involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

Tony Abbott calls for Russian envoy to be expelled over MH17

Tony Abbott — who once threatened to shirt-front Vladimir Putin over the downing of MH17 — has called on Australia to kick out the Russian ambassador if Moscow refuses to apologise for the atrocity.

Tony Abbott on Russia: We must be clear that ‘no one can kill Australians with impunity’

Mr Abbott says Russia’s indifference shouldn’t be tolerated.

Pyne hits back at Abbott over MH17 | SBS News

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne has responded to Tony Abbott’s criticism of Julie Bishop’s comments on the investigation into the shooting down of MH17.

Bishop urges Russia to admit guilt on MH17 – 9News

Former prime minister Tony Abbott wants the Russian ambassador expelled from Australia if the country refus…

Dutch Official Says Russia Must Accept Blame for 2014 Attack on Jet – The New York Times

Foreign Minister Stef Blok, whose country is leading the inquiry into the attack on the civilian plane that killed 298 people, urged Russia to “accept its responsibility.”

Coveney calls on Russia to take accountability for downing of Malaysian Airlines flight

The Netherlands and Australia have taken the first step towards dragging Russia to court over the shooting down of flight MH17.

Петро Порошенко on Twitter: “With Frank-Walter Steinmeier we have also discussed the UN peacekeeping mission to the occupied Donbas, Russia’s responsibility for downing the MH-17 plane and for the death of people, as well as issues related to the Nord Stream-2 project… https://t.co/IV9sENyRGp”

Russia’s complicity: Moscow’s lies about attack on MH17 cannot stand | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Russian missile shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over a conflict zone in Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board. That fact has been …

Russian MH17 Suspect Identified by ‘High-Pitched’ Voice

Military officer Oleg Ivannikov’s unusual voice helped investigators pinpoint him as a key suspect.

UAWire – NATO Secretary General: Russia should take responsibility for the crash of MH17

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that he agrees with the conclusions of the international investigation team on Russia's …

Babchenko alive – Security Service – 112.international

‘Murdered’ Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive at news conference. Arkadiy Babchenko, reported murdered yesterday in Kyiv, is alive. Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, reported that during the briefing of the Security Service. In the frameworks of the operation by special forces, the Ukrainian side faked his death in order to investigate assassination attempt, which has been actually planned and prepared beforehand.

Babchenko alive: Russian special service orders attempt on his life – 112.international

Russian special service ordered the murder of Arkadiy Babchenko, a Russian journalist, as Vasyl Hrytsak, SBU Head, said at the briefing, 112 Ukraine reports. “According to SBU information, Arkadiy Bbachenko’s murder was ordered by Russian special service. At least, SBU has this data for now,” Hrytsak said. The Head of SBU said that the service determined that the preparation to the terrorist attack against Russian citizen Babchenko is just another component of Russian special service operation aimed at physical destruction of Russian citizens who had to leave Russia due to their political preferences and live on the territory of Ukraine, in the EU member states and other countries.

SBU Head: Babchenko’s murder organizer detained in Kyiv – 112.international

The organizer of the murder of Babchenko was detained in Kyiv a few hours ago, as Vasyl Hrytsak, the Head of SBU, said at the briefing, 112 Ukraine reports. “At around three hours ago the organizer of this crime (Babchenko’s murder, – ed.) we detained in Kyiv. The investigative procedures with this citizen are still being conducted along with the searches in his place of residence and temporary state,” Hrytsak stated. At the briefing, Vasyl Hrytsak, the Head of SBU, stated that the death of Russian journalist was staged. This was a special operation.

Journalist Babchenko alive: His “assassination” was SBU’s special operation | UNIAN

Russian journalist, Putin vocal critic Arkady Babchenko is alive and his “assassination” was a special operation by the SBU Security Service of Ukraine. Babchenko revealed himself before journalists at an SBU press conference in Kyiv on May 30. The SBU in turn said that its officers had detained a suspect who was engaged in preparations for the contract killing of the journalist. The operation was held at the highest level of security. “I should have offered my condolences to the family, but on the contrary, I want to greet them … I want to congratulate Arkady Babchenko on his ‘third birthday,'” SBU Chief Vasyl Hrytsak, who was present at the press event, said. The contract hit was ordered by the Russian special service, the SBU said.

Arkady Babchenko, ‘murdered’ Russian journalist, appears on Ukrainian TV – CNN

A Russian journalist and Kremlin critic, reported to have been shot dead in Ukraine, has appeared alive at a news conference.

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was reported killed in Kiev, shows up at a news conference in Ukraine. – ABC News

Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.

Ukraine Staged Murder of Kremlin Critic Arkady Babchenko – Bloomberg

Ukraine said it staged the murder of a Russian journalist critical of the Kremlin in order to catch people who’d actually been plotting to kill him.

Russian Journalist, Kremlin Critic Who Fled To Ukraine Shot Dead In Kyiv – To Inform is to Influence

For the second time in two years, a Russian journalist fled Russia, only to be assassinated in Kyiv. Suspicion, of course, is on Russian special services. Of course. Russia will deny any involvement. Russia is already blameshifting, blaming Ukraine.  Russia’s Investigative Committee distanced the Kremlin from the killing — saying it had launched its own…

Infrastructure minister: “Kremlin and Moscow can’t be reasoned with, can only be burned” | UNIAN

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan has reacted to the news on the murder of journalist Arkadiy Babchenko in Kyiv, saying that the Kremlin and Moscow can’t be reasoned with. According to Omelyan, the goal of the barbarian empire is to destroy everything that they’re unable to conquer. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan has reacted to the news on the murder of journalist Arkadiy Babchenko in Kyiv, saying that the Kremlin and Moscow can’t be reasoned with. “The Kremlin and Moscow can’t be reasoned with. They can only be burned,” he wrote on Facebook. According to Omelyan, the goal of the barbarian empire is to destroy everything that they’re unable to conquer, understand or steal, to murder people by the tens of millions and lie without end. “Concentration camps across the empire and assassins around the world that systematically murdered those who managed to escape their hellish reality. Ice axes in Mexico City. Poison in Paris, Prague, London and Berlin. ‘Accidental’ deaths and simple bullets,” he said. “Perhaps some Western politicians don’t mind shaking the bloody hand of the Kremlin imp. I guess they’re lucky that the muscovite hordes haven’t brought the fight to their quiet European streets – yet,” Omelyan added. As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian journalist and vocal Putin critic, war veteran Arkadiy Babchenko was gunned down in Kyiv May 29.

Roman Tsymbaliuk | Arkadiy didn’t make it from war – news about politics

The Russians know everything. They know that their country is waging war. They know that those who seized Crimea had already started killing there – murdering the Ukrainian military and Crimean Tatar civilians. They also know that this “Russian world” moved immediately to Donbas and conceived “Novorossiya.” The death toll reaches thousands. And this is no secret in Russia. It’s no secret that big and small towns and villages across Russia regularly see people secretly burying their loved ones, citizens of the “great” country who for some reason tried to prove their “greatness” by force of arms. Ukraine is not the only place Russians take out their “killed in action,” there’s also Syria… Everyone is aware of that but at the same time, no one wants to notice this. After all, it can’t be that bad if Russian TV draws such a nice picture for its audience… Here in Russia people seem to really have believed in their nation’s exclusiveness. Who was Arkadiy Babchenko? He was the one who had been destroying this alternative reality. He called black black and red red. After all, even those who “disagreed” with him, still knew at heart that he was actually right. Of course, it hurts when someone brings you down to this sinful Earth when they speak and write about the crimes of the country of which they are citizens. Only for some reason in the “most Orthodox” country in this galaxy, people seem to get very upset when being told that maybe it’s enough dead bodies and it’s enough killing… In the country of peculiar spiritual bonds, a special term was invented for such people as Babchenko – “national traitors.” The Russian mindset, one can condescendingly treat defeated enemies, but never “traitors.” The latter are unworthy of “forgiveness.” And that’s what happened.

A man made by war: Why we’ll remember journalist and writer Arkady Babchenko — Meduza

On May 29, a still unidentified man shot Arkady Babchenko three times in the back as he walked into his apartment building in Kiev. The prominent Russian journalist and writer died before paramedics could get him to the hospital. Meduza looks back at Babchenko’s life and career, which were linked inextricably with war.

Russian journalist Babchenko shot dead in Kyiv: All details | UNIAN

Babchenko died shortly in the ambulance as he was being rushed to a hospital. Russian opposition journalist with pro-Ukrainian views, Kremlin critic Arkadiy Babchenko was gunned down near his Kyiv apartment Kyiv on May 29.

Anti-Kremlin Russian journalist shot and killed in Ukraine | Fox News

Arkady Babchenko, a Russian and fierce anti-Kremlin journalist, was fatally shot in Kiev on Tuesday, Ukrainian police said.

Russia’s opposition journalist Arkady Babchenko shot dead in Kiev – BBC News

Arkady Babchenko, a critic of the Kremlin, was shot near his home in Kiev, Ukraine’s police say.

Prominent Russian journalist shot dead in Kiev: police | Reuters

Prominent Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was shot in Kiev and died of his wounds in an ambulance, Ukrainian police said.

Russian Journalist Shot and Killed at Home in Ukraine – The Daily Beast

Arkady Babchenko had been critical of the Kremlin and said he received threats before leaving Russia.

Journalist Who Fled Russia Is Fatally Shot In His Kiev Apartment : The Two-Way : NPR

Arkady Babchenko had been a prominent war correspondent in Russia, but had fled the country out of fear for his life. He was a vocal critic of the Russian government – which put him at great risk.

Russian Journalist Arkady Babchenko Shot Dead in Kiev

A prominent Russian investigative journalist was shot dead on Tuesday in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. Arkady Babchenko died from his injuries on the way to the hospital after being shot in the back near the entrance to his Kiev apartment, Ukrainian law enforcement said on social media. His wife phoned an ambulance saying she had found Babchenko covered in blood, police said, adding they suspected the murder was due to Babchenko’s professional activities. Babchenko, a Chechen war veteran and a staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin, left Russia out of safety concerns after covering the conflict in Ukraine. His murder follows the earlier death of Ukranian-Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet by car bomb in central Kiev in 2016.

A Russian Journalist Was Shot And Killed In His Home In Ukraine

Arkady Babchenko, killed on Tuesday, was a veteran of the Russian military turned critical reporter.

Russian Journalist, Kremlin Critic Who Fled To Ukraine Shot Dead In Kyiv

Police in Kyiv say a Russian journalist who fled to Ukraine after what he called “political harassment” in Russia, has been shot dead at his Kyiv home by an unknown assailant.

Russian journalist critical of Kremlin shot dead in Ukraine – POLITICO

Arkady Babchenko had been living in Ukraine since fleeing Russia.

Russian Reporter Who Was Critical of Putin Shot Dead in Kiev – Bloomberg

A Russian journalist critical of President Vladimir Putin was shot in the back at his home in Kiev, the latest in a string of what appeared to be contract killings in Ukraine’s capital.

Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko shot dead in Kiev | World news | The Guardian

Murder thought related to prominent journalist’s work, following threats that caused him to leave Russia in 2017

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko shot and killed in Kiev | Ukraine News | Al Jazeera

Ukrainian police investigating journalist’s death said they suspect the crime is linked to his work.

Anti-Putin Russian journalist shot dead in Ukraine capital 

A prominent Russian journalist known for his sharp criticism of Vladimir Putin has been murdered in the Ukrainian capital.

UAWire – Prominent Russian journalist killed in Ukraine

On May 29, Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko was shot dead in Kyiv, where he had moved after leaving Russia. On the evening of May 29, an …

Prominent Russian journalist and Russia critic was shot dead in Kyiv – Business Insider

Arkady Babchenko, 41, was shot in the back in his apartment in Kyiv and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Russian journalist and Kremlin critic shot and killed in Ukraine | TheHill

A Russian journalist critical of President Vladimir Putin’s government was shot and killed in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev on Tuesday, according to authorities.

Babchenko gunned by professional killer – police | UNIAN

Head of the National Police Serhiy Knyazev has said Russian opposition journalist Arkadiy Babchenko was killed by a professional killer. According to Knyazev, there were several criminals involved in plotting the murder.

Activists picket Russian embassy in Kyiv after murder of Russian opposition journalist Babchenko (Photo, video) | UNIAN

Ukrainians have picketed the Russian embassy in Ukraine after a Ukraine supporter and Russian opposition journalist Arkadiy Babchenko was killed in Kyiv on May 29. A vocal Putin critic, Babchenko was killed in Kyiv late Tuesday, May 29.

Arkady Babchenko: Russia, Ukraine blame each other in journalist death – CNN

Moscow and Kiev are blaming each other for the death of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was shot dead in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday.

How a Russian ex-spy was saved from one of the deadliest nerve agents ever made

The medical team that took care of the poisoned man and his daughter spoke at length with the BBC about the case.

Doctors say future uncertain for poisoned Skripals – ABC News

Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.

Medical staff worried about Skripal’s long-term health – CNN

Medical staff who treated a Russian former spy and his daughter for poisoning by a nerve agent in the UK have told of how they initially feared the pair would die, and have said they are uncertain over their long-term health.

Prankster who duped Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson with 18-minute call says it was easy | Daily Mail Online

The hoax was staged by Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov, a pair of Russian pranksters known as ‘Vovan and Lexus’.

Russian pranksters discuss Putin and Skripal in call with Boris Johnson | Politics | The Guardian

One of the duo pretended to be the Armenian PM in 18-minute phone conversation

Commentary: Beyond sanctions, how the U.S. can pressure Iran | Reuters

By Michael Makovsky Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week delivered a powerful speech that essentially defined U.S. policy objectives toward Iran by three noes: no nuclear program, no regional terrorism and aggression, and no domestic oppression. He offered a three-part strategy to achieve those goals, the central element of which is “unprecedented financial pressure” on Tehran. But even with Iran’s currency crisis and popular discontent, sanctions can only be one tool in a broader U.S. plan. Instead, Washington should build upon Pompeo’s approach to pursue a comprehensive strategy of pressure against Tehran.Iran’s nuclear program and aggression expanded during two decades of U.S. sanctions, and while intensified sanctions might have helped bring Iran to the table in 2013, they didn’t secure an effective nuclear deal in the time allotted. Nor was the more recent prospect of renewed sanctions sufficient to fix the fundamental flaws of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – namely, its ignoring Iranian ballistic missile development, not mandating inspections anywhere anytime, and permitting restrictions on Iran’s enrichment program to lapse.Credible military threats have proven more effective in blunting Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran suspended elements of its nuclear program in 2003 following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, fearing its regime could be next. Iran also took pains not to cross a “red line” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu literally drew – with a marker, on a printed graphic representing Iran’s nuclear program – in a 2012 speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

Israeli Security Advisor To Meet Bolton To Coordinate Against Iran

Iran News

Forging a better strategy on Iran – Washington Times

To hear many in the media tell it, President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal was the worst thing to happen since he was elected.

Rising Tensions in Syria’s Southwest Complicate Moscow’s Ties with Tehran – WSJ

The Syrian regime is threatening to move against an antigovernment stronghold in the country’s southwest, raising pressure on Russia to keep Iran and its proxies out of a fight that could inflame tensions with Syria’s neighbor, Israel.

U.S. Military Will Leave Syria Base in Deal With Russia, Reports Say

The U.S. may reportedly dismantle its Al-Tanf base in exchange for a withdrawal of both pro-Assad and anti-Assad militias, leaving the Syrian army in control.

Why Europeans Turned Against Trump – Defense One

Many see an America pulling away from the world order it shaped, the colossus at twilight, turning inward as other powers rise.

Israeli official flies to Russia amid reports of deal on Iran’s role in Syria

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was set to fly to Russia Wednesday amid reports the two countries were finalizing a deal on Iran’s role in Syria.

Russia wants Iran out of Syria. Iranians aren’t so happy about that | Middle East Eye

First, Moscow said all foreign forces should leave Syria. Now only Syrian soldiers should be on Israel’s border. Iranians ask: Can Putin be trusted?

Israel, Russia team up to keep Iran out of Syria border region | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 29.05.2018

Israel and Russia have reportedly agreed to allow Syrian troops near the Israeli border as long as no Iranian forces are present. The deal is aimed at reducing tension in the region, but could enforcing it prove tough?

Israel source: Russia to back Israel against Iran in Syria – Middle East Monitor

Israel and Russia have been supporting opposing sides in the Syrian war but according to sources in Israel the two countries have reached a “dramatic understanding” whereby Moscow will concede to virtually every single demand made by Tel Aviv. The agreement, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News, will see coordination between Israel and Russia with the view to halt the spread of Iranian influence in the region. Senior political figures in both countries are said to have reached an understanding over a framework to ensure Israel’s security. An outline of the understanding was reported by Israeli news agency, Arutz Sheva. According to the pro-settler news site the following items were agreed between Israel and Russia:

1) President Bashar Al-Assad’s army is returning to control southern Syria on the border with Israel;

2) Russia shall undertake there will be no Iranian or Hezbollah presence in this area;

3) For its part, Israel will accept Al-Assad’s return to southern Syria provided the Russians enforce their commitment to distance Iran and Hezbollah from the Israeli border;

4) In addition, Russia will publicly call on all foreign elements to leave all of Syria, referring to Iran, Hezbollah, but also the United States and Turkey. This is significant because Israel believes the Iranians will not give up Syria so easily;

5) Israel will maintain freedom of action against Iranian consolidation in all of Syria.

Removal of Iranian forces from southern Syria wont suffice: Netanyahu

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:00 P.M.) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Tuesday that the removal of Iranian forces from southern Syria is not enough to pleas Israel. “‘Removal of Iranian forces from southern Syria alone won’t suffice,” Netanyahu told the audience at the Ma’alot-Tashiha Galilee Conference,

Assad can assault Dera’a after Russia-Israel deal to hold back Iranian militias | World | The Times

Russia and Israel have come to an extraordinary agreement over the role of Iranian troops in Syria, paving the way for a regime offensive against one of the last remaining rebel-held areas in the south of the country.Russia has agreed to Israeli demands that Iranian-backed militias be held back fro

Russia tells Iran to immediately remove militias from Syrian-Israel border | The Times of Israel

Demand that Tehran-backed fighters keep away from Jewish state indicates Moscow receptive to Jerusalem’s concerns

Russia May Move Iran’s Militants From Israel’s Border in Unprecedented Deal on Syria, Reports Claim

Israel will also meet with U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday to hammer out an agreement on Iran.

Hezbollah men, including commander, said killed in Syria strike blamed on Israel | The Times of Israel

Attack reportedly wrecks operational coordination center near Al-Qusayr, close to where munitions depot belonging to group was destroyed in a raid on Thursday

The return of U.S. sanctions is expected to sow misery in Iran. But for those with money, there’s a haven: dollars

Iran’s plummeting currency could be further devalued and more anti-government protests are expected after President Trump abandoned the nuclear deal.

U.S. Sanctions Start to Pinch Shipping in Iran – WSJ

It will be months before new U.S. sanctions against Iran take hold, but global shipping operators are already pulling back from the big oil-exporting nation.

Official Scolds Security Elite in Rare Challenge to Iran’s Leader – Bloomberg

An education official has delivered a rare rebuke to Iran’s law and security authorities in the presence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian university students criticize country in meeting with supreme leader, report says | Fox News

Iranian university students offered harsh criticism of the country’s direction in a frank conversation with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, local media reported Tuesday.

How will the US nuclear deal pullout affect Iran’s economy? | Business & Economy | Al Jazeera

US withdrawal from the JCPOA could be a blessing in disguise for Iran’s economy.

Report: Students harshly criticize Iran to supreme leader | Fox News

Iranian media are saying that university students invited to meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan harshly criticized the country’s direction.

Iran willing to push for ceasefire in Yemen talks with European powers | Reuters

Iran and European powers have made good progress in talks to end the conflict in Yemen as Tehran has shown itself willing to push for a ceasefire and ease the humanitarian crisis there, according to officials on both sides.

Six sides to the southern Syria crisis – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Southern Syria as a sand box for regional and international powers

The Annexation That Deserves to Be Recognized – Bloomberg

Israel thinks the time is right for the U.S. To acknowledge its sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Shift in Saudi Media Attitude Towards Israel | MEMRI

Against backdrop of Iran-Israel tensions, voices in Saudi media are increasingly expressing support for Israel, condoning its Iran policy and even calling to make peace with it

U.S. Slams Religious Persecution In Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan

The United States says religious persecution continues to be widespread around the globe as it unveiled its annual report on religious freedom, with violations cited in Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, a…

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