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Monthly Archives: March 2008

Russia: I Am Watching The Dollar Sink, One kopek at a time!

Hello,

I have watched the Dollar slide downhill slowly but steadily! This effect was not very apparent when I lived in the USA, but living outside of the USA, I see how the Dollar decline is conjunctively with all currencies……
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Dollar down 13.88 kopeks, euro up 16.91 kopeks – Central Bank

27/03/2008 13:48 MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) – The official dollar rate set by the Russian Central Bank from March 28 is 23.5171 rubles, down 13.88 kopeks from Thursday, the Central Bank said.

The official euro rate for Friday is 37.0794 rubles, up 16.91 kopeks from Thursday.
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The dropping of the dollar adds up ……

Something my Grandmother(who lived through the Depression) said to me several times in my life when I was young.

Grandma said. “Never pass a penny laying on the ground.” She said. “Pick it up & save it for a rainy day.” She also said, “One day the Government will not have any pennies left & you will need those that you find!”

I have found thousands upon thousands of pennies, (now I find kopeks) They really do add up.

Look around you as you walk…….

Kyle & Svet

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Posted by on March 27, 2008 in Russia

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Russia: Spy Vs. Spy!

Hello,

Seems that here in the last few weeks there are spy’s everywhere. Now Belarus has uncovered another spy ring. They must not be very good spy’s because they keep getting caught.

Reminds me of: Spy Vs Spy……
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Belarus says uncovers U.S. spy network
Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:17pm EDT

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarus said on Tuesday it had uncovered a spy ring working for Washington, deepening a diplomatic and human rights row between the countries.

Hundreds of demonstrators from the ex-Soviet state’s liberal and nationalist opposition, meanwhile, staged an unauthorized rally in the centre of Minsk and clashed with police. Eyewitnesses said dozens were detained.

The U.S. ambassador this month left Belarus, whose president, Alexander Lukashenko, is accused by the West of violating basic rights. Authorities objecting to what they saw as new sanctions against Belarus had urged her to go.

The U.S. embassy has since stopped issuing visas and complied with a request to cut diplomatic staff in Minsk.

On Tuesday, Belarus’s intelligence service, still known by its Soviet-era initials KGB, said a spy ring of Belarussian citizens had been uncovered in the country of 10 million.

“The information about this group being exposed is completely true,” a KGB official said. “A group conducting espionage for the United States has been uncovered.”

KGB chairman Yuri Zhadobin later told Belarussian media that no arrests had been made in what he said was a “preventive” operation. New checks would determine if laws had been broken.

Tightly controlled state television reported at the weekend that a spying network of 10 Belarussian nationals had been exposed, but gave no details of concrete charges against them.

“We have no spies working on the territory of Belarus. These are people working for the diplomatic security service,” U.S. charge d’affaires Jonathan Moore told local media.

The report showed people described as embassy employees working as informers for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Some told an interviewer they were gathering information to prevent terrorism.

OPPOSITION RALLY

In the evening, several hundred opposition activists gathered in a Minsk square to mark the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Belarussian People’s Republic, crushed within months by Bolshevik forces.

No authorization had been granted for a city-center rally.

Riot police surrounded the anti-Lukashenko protesters and broke them up into smaller groups. Clashes broke out and dozens were seen being led away to a police bus.

The opposition, often hit by internal divisions, has rarely attracted large crowds during protests in recent months.

Both the United States and European Union have long accused Belarus of crushing freedom of press and assembly.

Both bar entry to Lukashenko on grounds he rigged his 2006 re-election. U.S. officials, more critical, have denounced Belarus as “the last dictatorship in Europe”.

Lukashenko, at odds with traditional ally Russia over energy prices, seeks better ties with the West, particularly the EU. Several detainees deemed political prisoners have been freed.

Washington last year prohibited dealings with national oil products firm Belneftekhim, but denies Belarussian allegations that it has since imposed new punitive measures.

The Foreign Ministry called for sanctions to be lifted.

“If the U.S. side truly regrets what has happened and truly wants new and different relations with our country, it must rescind sanctions against Belarus,” a ministry statement said.

U.S. ambassador Karen Stewart last week said Belarus could end the logjam by freeing Alexander Kozulin, who ran against Lukashenko in 2006 and was sentenced to 5-1/2 years for staging protests after his landslide re-election.

Lukashenko remains broadly popular and says social benefits have spared Belarussians the turmoil of other ex-Soviet states.
By Andrei Makhovsky
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British Council rejects Russian spying allegation

25/03/2008 21:58 LONDON, March 25 (RIA Novosti) – The British Council rejected on Tuesday comments made by Russian president-elect Dmitry Medvedev suggesting that the organization is linked to British intelligence-gathering activities.

When asked by the Financial Times last Friday whether he believed the British Embassy’s cultural arm was involved in spying in Russia, Medvedev said: “The information that from time to time appears in the press and the reports that I get as one of the leaders of the country show that there is a problem with this.”

“This is not very surprising because these types of organizations are traditionally used for the collection of information,” said Medvedev, who will become Russia’s president on May 7.

A spokesman for the council told RIA Novosti: “The British Council does not cooperate with intelligence services of the U.K.”

Russia ordered the closure of the British Council’s offices in Russian regions in January following accusations of legal status irregularities and tax arrears, and amid growing tensions between Russia and the U.K.

Media attention was again focused on the organization last week, when reports emerged that two brothers with Russian-U.S. citizenship, one of whom has links with the British Council, had been arrested for industrial espionage.

The Federal Security Service arrested TNK-BP’s Ilya Zaslavsky along with his brother Alexander on March 12 for “illegally gathering secret commercial information for the benefit of several foreign oil and gas companies, in order to give them advantages over Russian competitors.”
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Oil major BP recalls 148 employees from Russia

25/03/2008 20:30 MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) – A total of 148 employees of Britain’s BP working in Russia for TNK-BP have been recalled from the country due to problems with registration, the Russian-British venture said on Tuesday.

“We confirm that 148 employees of BP have been recalled from TNK-BP. The reason for their recall is that the status of their stay in Russia has not been fully regulated in line with Russian migration laws,” a TNK-BP spokesperson said.

The statement follows reports by some Russian and foreign media on Tuesday that about 150 TNK-BP employees were facing problems in extending their work visas. The Federal Migration Service has not commented on the reports.

Sources close to the situation earlier said that some of the company’s staff had travelled to Russia on business visas, while they should have obtained work visas.

Police seized documents last week from the central office of TNK-BP, one of the largest crude producers in Russia. The Moscow office of British oil major BP was also raided by police.

Security officials said copies of official documents, papers on oil and gas production believed to contain commercial secrets, as well as ID cards belonging to foreign military organizations and to the CIA were found during the searches.

The Federal Security Service said that on March 12 officers had detained TNK-BP’s Ilya Zaslavsky, along with his brother Alexander, who has links with the British Council, for “illegally gathering secret commercial information for the benefit of several foreign oil and gas companies, in order to give them advantages over Russian competitors.”

The British Council, the U.K. Embassy’s cultural arm, said Ilya Zaslavsky was not on its staff but was a member of the embassy’s alumni club for foreign graduates of British universities. The British Council, whose regional offices in Russia were closed down earlier this year over alleged tax violations, subsequently voiced its concern over the arrests.

However, the Foreign Ministry denied there was a connection between the two matters. “There is no sense in looking for a connection between these two completely separate cases,” Andrei Krivtsov, a deputy head of the Foreign Ministry’s information and press department, said on Friday.

Despite Russia’s denial that the two cases are unrelated, the arrests have the potential to further worsen Russian-British relations, already strained following the murder of Russian security service defector Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006 in London, and more recently by the closure of British Council offices.
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Last But Not Least:
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March 21, 2008, 12:19
American brothers accused of spying in Moscow
The Russian Security Service has charged two brothers, who are joint Russia-U.S. citizens, with commercial espionage. One of the Zaslavsky brothers works for TNK-BP, while the other is a member of a British Council’s alumni club. They have allegedly acquired classified information on Russian oil and gas companies for foreign firms.

The Federal Security Service of Russia, the FSB, detained the two men on March 12 and charged them on March 18.

The arrested men are brothers with the surname Zaslavsky. One of them heads a British Council’s Graduate’s Club project and his brother is the head of TNK BP Management’s English Department.

According to FSB spokesman Sergey Ignachenko, the Zaslavsky were “apprehended during an attempt to obtain commercial classified information from a citizen of Russia, an employee of one of the ‘closed’ Russian oil and gas companies”.

They are suspected of gathering classified information for foreign oil and gas companies.

“The persons have been collecting commercial classified information for a number of foreign oil and gas companies, in order for them to obtain advantages over their Russian competitors, for instance, on the CIS market,” Ignachenko said.

On March 19, the Russian security service conducted a search in TNK-BP’s offices, during which they have found material evidence confirming the industrial espionage.

Among the documents seized during the search, the FSB spokesman says, were “copies of Russian government documents, analytical reports relating to subsurface resources management, preliminarily rated as commercial classified information, as well as visit cards of representatives of foreign military agencies and the CIA”.

The Zaslavsky brothers have been released, but are not allowed to leave the country.

An investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Moscow says it is watching the situation closely, but refrained from commenting on the news.

The British Council is also monitoring the situation. They have pointed out that one of the Zaslavsky brothers is not an employee of the organisation, but a head of a project within it, the Alumni Association.

Aleksandr Shadrin, the spokesperson of the joint Russian-British oil company, TNK-BP, says the company is working closely with law enforcement agencies and the latest events have not interfered with its business.

“TNK-BP operates strictly in accordance with Russian law and we will not tolerate any action which could damage either the reputation of the Russian Federation or any of our business partners. We are opposed to unethical business relations or unlawful methods of competition. In this particular case we’ve co-operated fully with law-enforcement agencies,” he said.

He added that the company continues to operate in its normal manner and recent events haven’t affected its activities in any way.

It’s feared the arrests may increase tension between Russia, the UK and the US.
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Where is James Bond when you need him?

Now, how many spy’s are not caught, that is the question????

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.

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Posted by on March 26, 2008 in Russia

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Russia: Is Chechnya Getting Safer?

Hello,

I was drinking my morning cup of delicious Russian coffee & thinking about Chechnya. I was thinking about doing an article on the troubled area. It has seemed to me that the conflict has mellowed out a lot down that way.

Just as I was getting ready to start the article I saw that Yuri Mamchur from “Russia Blog” decided to write the article first. So I am going to let you see his article and give him all the credit……
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Is There Still Terrorism in Chechnya?
Yuri Mamchur

Many positive political and economic developments are taking place in Moscow. Russia Blog has noticed that many of them have been ignored since the elections of the new Russian president. The doom-and-gloom scenario predicted by the Washington think-tanks did not take place, and the scholars along with journalists ran out of negative steam relatively fast.

The reporting about the troubled Caucasian region has disappeared from the Western media coverage as well. Grozny and Chechnya are in much better shape today than they were three years ago, with nearly half a million refugees returned to their home and nearly 100,000 private businesses started. However, terrorism remains to be an issue, and random minor attacks take place on a weekly basis. For detailed reporting and analysis of the attacks happening in the region, please visit the website of the “Russia-Eurasia Daily Watch”.
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Most of my Chechnya articles are in the “Windows To Russia: News!” blog.

Yuri is very correct about what he says in the article & I am glad he wrote it.

Thanks Yuri!

Kyle & Svet

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Posted by on March 26, 2008 in Russia

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