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By On November 07, 2018

Trial for acclaimed theater director opens in Russia


Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov waits for a start of court hearing in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Serebrennikov has been under house arrest since August 2017 on charges of embezzling 133 million rubles (1bout $2 million) of state funding for a theater project, accusations he denies. (Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press) November 7 at 6:12 AM

MOSCOW â€" Russia’s arguably best-known contemporary theater and film director pleaded not guilty Wednesday as his fraud trial opened in Moscow.

Kirill Serebrennikov’s midnight arrest during a movie shoot in August last year sent shockwaves through Russia’s art circles and was seen by some as a chilling omen of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Serebrennikov’s work both on stage and on the screen challenged the establishment, its values and lifestyle. But despite that, his productions have enjoyed lavish state funding and his plays are still frequented by top Russian officials.

A Moscow court on Wednesday opened the trial against Serebrennikov, three of his associates and an accountant who has pleaded guilty in the case and testified against him.

Serebrennikov, 49, is accused of embezzling 133 million rubles (about $2 million) of state funding. Investigators initially claimed that the director and his associates stole the funds allocated for staging several productions, claiming that one of these plays never saw the light of day â€" when in fact it was staged to critical acclaim. The investigators later withdrew that claim, and have not clarified where they believe money was stolen from.

Serebrennikov and the three people who worked for his projects pleaded not guilty on Wednesday , all of them saying that the indictment is too vague and does not explain how the money was embezzled.

Speaking at the start of the trial Serebrennikov said he has “never stolen anything from anyone.”

He called on the Culture Ministry which is the injured party in the case to explain why it believes that he swindled them.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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By On November 07, 2018

Russia gloomy on US relations after Democrats take House in midterms

  1. Russia gloomy on US relations after Democrats take House in midterms CNN
  2. US to impose new Russia sanctions over spy poisoning in UK ABC News
  3. US says to issue chemical weapons-related sanctions against Russia Reuters.com
  4. US urges EU to hold firm on Russia sanctions Financial Times
  5. Full coverage
Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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By On November 07, 2018

US to impose new Russia sanctions over spy poisoning in UK

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The Trump administration said Tuesday that it is consulting with Congress about additional sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain, in a move that is likely to further strain already tense relations.

The State Department said in a statement that Russia has failed to meet a 90-day deadline that fell on Tuesday to comply with a 1991 U.S. law on preventing the use of chemical weapons.

The United States and its allies have accused the Russian government of involvement in the March nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. The State Department determined in August that Russia violated the chemicals law in the Skripal case. Moscow strongly denies that it was behi nd the attack.

Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the agency will now consult Congress on the fresh sanctions.

"We intend to proceed in accordance with the terms of the CBW Act, which directs the implementation of additional sanctions," she said, referring to Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act.

Ties between Moscow and Washington are at Cold War lows despite President Donald Trump's hopes of building closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia already faces U.S. sanctions over its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election and its actions in Ukraine.

Putin has said Russia had no reason to attack Skripal, who had served time in prison for spying for Britain and then was released in a spy swap deal in 2010. Moscow also denies meddling in U.S. politics.

According to the credit agency Standard & Poor's, the Trump administration will be choosing three of the fo llowing six options for sanctions: restricting U.S. imports of Russian oil, banning U.S. technology and food exports, restricting Russia's access to international financial markets, prohibiting U.S. banks from giving loans to the Russian government, further downgrading diplomatic ties and restricting travel in the U.S. by Russia's Aeroflot airlines.

Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the Trump administration "to act quickly" on sanctions.

In September, Britain charged two Russian citizens with trying to kill Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok. The Skripals survived the attack, but spent weeks in the hospital.

Britain says "the operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level."

British-based investigative group Bellingcat has identified the two suspects as members of the Russian military intelligence unit know n as GRU, one a military doctor and the other, a decorated agent.

The men deny involvement, saying they traveled to Salisbury as tourists.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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By On November 07, 2018

Facebook connects Russia to 100+ accounts it removed ahead of mid-terms

  1. Facebook connects Russia to 100+ accounts it removed ahead of mid-terms TechCrunch
  2. Facebook blocks accounts for possible election meddling by Russia and others Hawaii News Now
  3. Midterm elections 2018: Russia is targeting US voters, warns FBI â€" Facebook removes pages Express.co.uk
  4. 6 novembre 2018 - Twitter Twitter
  5. Facebook, Exploited By Influence Campaigns, Tries To Clamp Down With 'War Room' NPR
  6. Full coverage
Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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By On November 06, 2018

Russia Tightens Control Over Cell Phone Messenger Services

The Russian government has approved regulation aimed at tightening control over popular anonymous messenger services by identifying users by their cell phone numbers.

The rules signed on November 6 by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are the latest Russian measures to clamp down on smart phone messenger services like Telegram that authorities claim have been used by criminals and terrorists.

Mobile phone network operators will be required to confirm the authenticity of a user's phone numbers within 20 minutes. If a number cannot be verified, messenger services are required to block users from their platforms.

The Russian government will also require network operators to keep track of which messenger apps their users have registered for. The decree goes into effect after 180 days.

Over the past few years, Russia has adopted legislation aimed at curtailing internet fre edom and limiting data privacy. One of the laws requires mobile phone operators to store data on voice calls and messages for several months. Other legislation allows authorities to target activists by fining and even sending them to prison for social media posts.

In April, Russian authorities sought to block Telegram over its refusal to hand over keys to its data encryption. Telegram, which was developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, had refused to share data.

In a battle to cripple Telegram's operations, the Russian communications watchdog blocked some servers owned by tech giants Google and Amazon, affecting millions of Russian websites.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax
Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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By On November 06, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron Calls for a 'European Army' to Defend Against China, Russia and the US

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for the formation of a “real European army” to protect the continent “with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

Agence France-Presse reports that while on a tour of World War I memorials Tuesday, Macron said: “We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.”

Macron has advocated for the mobilization of a collective European force since his election last year. But those calls may be received with more urgency after President Trump announced last month that the U.S. would pull out of a Cold War era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Trump has also displayed a tepid attitude in the past towards NATO’s mutual defense commitments.

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” Macron said on a visit to Verdun, a French city that was the site of a major battle in 1916.

Europe needs to be prepared to “[defend] itself better alone, without just depending on the United States,” the French president added.

The E.U. launched an annual €5.5 billion ($6.3 billion) joint defense fund last year, and added another €13 billion ($14.8 billion) in defense spending in June to support development of new military technology. France has also led the formation of a nine-country rapid deployment force to respond to crises like evacuations or natural disasters.

Macron is preparing to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump an d Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

But ahead of that anniversary, the French president has spoken of modern threats to European peace, including the reemergence of “authoritarian powers” and “intrusion attempts in cyber-space” seeking to derail democratic elections in Europe. (Russia has been accused of intervening in elections in France as well as supporting far-right parties in Germany and elsewhere.)

“Peace in Europe is precarious,” Macron said.

Write to Eli Meixler at eli.meixler@time.com.

Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia