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By On June 23, 2018

Beyond World Cup: Advocates call attention to Russian abuses

MOSCOW â€" Wrapped in national flags, jubilant fans dance at midnight in the streets of Moscow, smiling, laughing and cheering.

While foreign spectators from all over the world are having a blast at the World Cup being hosted by Russia, human rights activists are urging them not to overlook the other side of Vladimir Putin's nation: political prisoners and the harassment of critical voices.

Friday marked the 40th day that Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has been refusing food in a Russian prison. Sentsov, an outspoken opponent of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts. He calls the case against him politically motivated and went on a hunger strike in mid-May to demand his release, as well as that of other Ukrainians held by Russia. Western nations have been calling for Sentsov's release.

Sentsov's lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, visited him in a prison clinic Friday and said his client has lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) and was very frail.

"His condition is bad. He is very weak, very pale," Dinze told The Associated Press by telephone. Dinze said Sentsov is able to walk, but talking is difficult and he has kidney and heart problems. Sentsov is receiving vitamins and other nutrients through an intravenous line and is refusing to be force-fed.

"He has stated his position firmly. Nobody will be able to talk him out of it, he will continue until his demands are met," Dinze said.

< p>Russian officials have been saying Sentsov is in satisfactory condition and his health has not suffered.

"This is a double picture of a very bright, very sparkling celebration, but on the other hand, there is an entire abyss of despair," said Tanya Lokshina, the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. "It is very important that today those who watch Russia, film Russia, write about Russia see not only this celebration, beautiful by itself, which will come and go, understand even a little bit what today's Russia is in terms of human rights and basic freedoms."

Ukrainian rights activist Maria Tomak was among about a dozen people who staged a rally Friday outside the Russian consulate in Kiev, urging Putin to exchange Sentsov and other Ukrainians jailed in Russia for Russians detained in Ukraine.

"The situation around Oleg Sentsov is a threat to everyone," Tomak said. "If there is some kind of fatal incident with Oleg in Russia during the World Cup, this will look awful, this will lead to (Russia's) isolation."

On the opening day of the World Cup, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny walked out of a Moscow jail after 30 days b ehind bars on charges of organizing an authorized rally and resisting police. Two days later, Navalny's press secretary was released after a 25-day stint in prison.

In the Chechen capital of Grozny, where Egypt's national team set up its base, Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov was posing for photos with the Egypt star soccer forward Mohamed Salah. All the while, across town, the region's top human rights activist Oyub Titiev was in a prison on drug charges that he calls fabricated.

International human rights organizations have dismissed the charges against Titiev as fake and have called on FIFA to intervene and seek his release.

B eyond soccer, movie theaters across Russia are playing "Summer," a romantic period drama about the budding rock scene in the waning years of the Soviet Union that received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film festival in May. But its director, Kirill Serebrennikov, is under house arrest on embezzlement charges, which he denies. The case is viewed by many in Russia as punishment for Serebrennikov's iconoclastic views and has raised fears of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Before hosting the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Russi a freed its most prominent prisoners, the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and two women from the Pussy Riot punk band. Lokshina called for the same for Sentsov, Titiev and others.

"If this doesn't happen, the legacy of the World Cup will be clouded by these awful, horrible cases," Lokshina said.

Independent political analyst Masha Lipman welcomed the festive and positive atmosphere of the World Cup, given that relations between Russia and the West had sunk to their lowest point in recent history. Lipman said that Western leaders have already made their position clear by not attending World Cup games but she says regular fans who have spent a lot of money and effort to come to come to Russia should focus on soccer and enjoy their stay.

"Do you think it would be better if everybody was walking around somber and angry, for tourists and fans to come here and to be looking for what else would upset them? Of course it is better when there is a friendly attitude toward the country," Lipman said. "At least for a change."

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By On June 23, 2018

Russia's Muslim Strongman Is Winning the World Cup


Russia’s Muslim Strongman Is Winning the World Cup

Ramzan Kadyrov is using sports diplomacy to bolster his image.

By Karim Zidan |
The Egyptian national team's star striker Mohamed Salah, left, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov pose in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, on June 10, ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images) The Egyptian national team's star striker Mohamed Salah, left, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov pose in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, on June 10, ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

Karim Zidan was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. He works as an associate editor for, and as a contributor to SBNation, Sports on Earth, Vocativ, Open Democracy, and Bleacher Report.

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By On June 23, 2018

“The Russians Play Hard”: Inside Russia's Attempt to Hack 2018â€"And 2020

vladimir putin

A light breeze was rustling along Connecticut Avenue when I arrived at an unmemorable bar in Washington, D.C., and plopped down across from a former federal intelligence official. It had been an exhausting day. For decades, I’ve covered the goings-on and machinations within Silicon Valley, but these days the biggest technology story is occurring at the heart of the nation’s capital. I’d already met with current and former intelligence and security officials in federal buildings along the lush Capitol grounds, researchers from think tanks in bespoke coffee shops near Dupont Circle, and, now, in a dark bar not too far from the National Mall. Each spoke articulately and cogently about the threats posed to the 2018 midterms b y Russia. I’ve been reporting cyber-security and hacking for well over a decade, and even unearthed some truly scary stuffâ€"like the chilling manifest destiny of fake newsâ€"in the process. But what I learned that day, and particularly in that bar, scared the shit out of me.

On the televisions hanging above the bar played a commercial for Uberâ€"an apology from the company’s new C.E.O. for the actions of its previous C.E.O. As the news came back on, we made swamp small talk. Would the Democrats retake the house? Would Donald Trump win re-election in 2020? Or would his chaotic presidency all come crashing down far, far sooner? The former official simply shook his head side to side. “Russia is going to do everything it can to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said. “They’ll hack the voting booths, if they haven’t already; they’ll quadruple their efforts on social media; they’ll do things we”â€"he pointed to me, then himself â€"“haven’t e ven thought of yet.” When I asked what we can do to stop them, he said, as if imitating the voice-over for a horror-movie trailer, “These are all things that have been in the works since the day Trump won two years ago.”

So what exactly is Russia planning for the upcoming election? The correct question, a half dozen security experts and former and current government officials have told me, is what are they not planning? These people all said that 2018 will likely be a testing ground for 2020. Many of the tactics that Russia experiments with could (and likely will) be enacted on a much larger scale two years from now. Some of these strategies and maneuvers appear grounded in reality, while others seem speculative, but all have the same sinister goal of breaking the systemâ€"by cleaving our polity, distracting us with feuds large and smallâ€"by sowing discord through technology platforms and services. “Having the U.S. at war with itself is giving Russia credit i nternationally,” explained Andrew Weiss, the vice president for research on Russia for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noting that we as a country are more divided on almost every issue than at any other time in history. “[Russia is] not the creator of this problem, but they have exploited it. Just creating mistrust, and throwing a question mark over the legitimacy of our government, is a pretty big prize for Russia.”

In the coming months, these experts told me, Russian operatives will likely start creating fake Facebook groups (if they haven’t already)â€"some that slam to the left, others that lean as far right as humanly possibleâ€"that will argue with one another, and help us do the same; there will be accounts on social media that use Cambridge Analytica-style targeting to serve up ads, and a barrage of cleverly designed and perfectly disguised bots on Twitter. All stuff we’ve seen already, but with much more advanced algorithms a nd snakier and more aggressive tactics. (This time, for example, fake video and audio will start circulating through the social stratosphere, all with the intended purpose of trying to make real news seem fake, and fake news seem real.) As we’ve seen with the various e-mails posted on WikiLeaksâ€"ranging from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the D.C.C.C. to the countless hacking attempts around the world that preceded the French national electionâ€"any modern candidate should expect that their e-mails, text messages, and personal social-media data are hacked and published. At least any candidate that Russia wants to harm.

Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager, told me in an interview on my podcast last week that even the slightest action by Russia can have outsized consequences. Recalling the repercussions of the John Podesta e-mail saga, Mook warned that simply hacking someone’s e-mails, text messages, or other private contentâ€"even if they are not salaciousâ€"can spread like a plague on social media; before long, the truth and fake content blurs together, and you have a coagulated version of fake truth. Social media allows Russia and other adversarial governments the ability to take something so small, and make it tantamount to any scandal on Earth. “Little, tiny embers become infernos in a way that no technology has ever enabled in history,” a tech entrepreneur lamented recently.

And then there will be new tactics. More than one expert told me that Russia will try to go after actual voting booths in smaller, more contentious districts across the country. The world we live in so intertwined with technology that you could imagine Russian hackers disrupting how we even get to the polls on Election Day. Ride-sharing services could be hacked. We’ve already seen instances of hackers faking transit problems on mapping apps, like Waze, to send people in the wrong direction, or away from a certain street. Perhaps most terrifying of all, one former official told me, are the possibilities arising from Russia’s alleged 2015 cyber-attack on Kiev’s power grid, which plunged the city into darkness. The moment I heard this, I ordered another drink.

On some level, the dystopian horror that technology poses to our democracy is effectively limitless. At the Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas last year, white-hat hackers (the good kind) demonstrated that it takes about 90 minutes to hack into a voting booth. Some voting booths still operate using an old version of Windows XP, and people can easily get in using Wi-Fi systems. Over the years, there have been countless instances of hackers easily penetrating voting booths. Earlier this year, election officials admitted that Russians actually did infiltrate some of the U.S. election systems in 2016. Jeanette Manfra, the head of cyber-security at the Department of Homeland Security, told NBC News , “We saw a targeting of 21 states, and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.” Another official admitted that, “2016 was a wake-up call, and now it’s incumbent upon states and the feds to do something about it before our democracy is attacked again.” Of course, the one person who possesses the most power to prevent this from recurringâ€"our presidentâ€"may be the one who stands to benefit the most in the first place.

With their man already in the Oval Office, Mook suggested that Russia’s goal in 2018 will similarly be to “sow discord.” It’s an elegant way of saying that they just want to start trouble and see what happens. And there are no consequences for them doing it. (If anything, Vladimir Putin is praised more by Trump.) Since Trump’s election, Mook explained, there have been several congressional hearings that have detailed how Russian operatives have fanned both sides of the flames during almost every major event in the last few years: Charlottesville, the Las Vegas shooting, Parkland, even infiltrating Bernie Sanders supporters’ Facebook groups. Just this past week, as America boiled over the White House’s abominable policy to separate children and parents at the border, the Russians were hard at work stoking the flames with a flamethrower. Weiss echoed this, noting that the discord existed in America before the Russians stepped inâ€"they just helped exacerbate it with tech. “There’s the old saying by Napoleon [along the lines of], ‘When your enemy is making a big mistake, don’t interrupt them,’” Weiss said. “This has been the most successful covert operation in reported history.”

In some ways, there are almost too many holes to plug to stop the Russians from causing massive harm in the coming elections. Mook suggested that concerns about voting-booth safety were just one tiny part of the problem. “Our election system goes far beyond machines. We have voter-registration databases,” he said. “We have e-poll booksâ€"the actual devices used to look you up when you come in to vote. We have the results reporting system. We have the Web sites that host those results.” Imagine, for a brief, terrifying moment, that the Web sites and reporting systems (the methodologies that are the backbone of how news organizations report election results in real time) are hacked, and Trump is briefly marked as the winner before the election is accurately called for his opponent? Trump and his surrogates would seize on such a moment like piranhas to blood. “I think [Russia] will do anything they can to help Donald Trump win re-election,” Mook concluded, “but there greater interest is to sow doubt in the election process in generalâ€"and doubt in democracy.” (As Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan note, Moscow’s continued covert efforts to interfere in our elections should be t he most urgent issue before Trump when he meets with Vladimir Putin next monthâ€"a confrontation that is hard to imagine for a president who has deliberately ignored the issue when he wasn’t outright encouraging it.)

Russia and Putin want to drive a wedge deeper and deeper into the United States, pitting Americans against Americans, breaking the system from within, and helping us destroy ourselves. As one researcher said to me recently, if there’s one thing that Russia and the Democrats agree on, it’s that Trump is an idiot, and he’s so self-obsessed that he’ll always put himself before American democracy, and, in turn, weaken it. Trump is also playing to the same drum as the Russians, only louder. Over the past two years, Trump has been trying to make the public believe that everything about our democracy is corruptâ€"but not for the reasons you might think. First, it was Washington in general. (“Drain the swamp!”) Then, when the polls predicted his loss, it was the entire electoral system, which was “rigged.” (After he won the electoral vote, but lost the popular vote, there were magically between 3 million and 5 million people who, he lied, voted illegally.) Now, in anticipation of the Mueller Report, Trump has gone after the F.B.I. with the goal of discrediting them when the report finally does come out. Trump’s attacks on these institutions, and his unrelenting blitz on the media, are an attempt to make Americans distrust what journalists and cable outlets say, especially when it’s the truth. What more could the Russians ask for?

Last year, shortly after Trump started to settle into his new job, mysterious things began to happen to some of Putin’s critics. The Russian ambassador to Sudan suddenly had a heart attack in his swimming pool; another Russian politician, who had fled the country after publicly denouncing the country’s actions in Ukraine, was gunned down in front of a hotel; soon, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, India, and Greece died of a heart attack, too. And then there were the string of officials, and Putin critics, who mysteriously “fell” from their balcony or roof. One politician was killed in a Dupont Circle hotel room, not far from the bar where I met the former federal official who warned of what was to come.

Over the years, approximately a half dozen Russian journalists have been murdered and abducted while doing their jobs. Each time “accidents” happen, Russia denies any involvement, calling allegations that these were Putin-backed “absurd.” And so while none of this is new, I had to ask Weissâ€"who formally covered Russia for the Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, advising both presidents about Russiaâ€"if we should worry that Putin could cross a line from digital to physical. Weiss didn’t say yes, but he also didn’t say no. “I don’t know what is possible,â € he told me. “I think what we’ve seen so far is that all powers of imagination are possible when it comes to dealing with Russia. The Russians play hard. They play this game really ruthlessly.”

The day after my terrifying discussions in that dark bar, I had time to kill before heading to a meeting at the United States Senate building, so I decided to walk to try to clear my head. No matter how many times you do it, it’s an incredibly sobering experience to go past those massive buildings that house our government. The Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice all stand momentous and stoic. They present themselves as edifices capable of withstanding anythingâ€"anything at all. Yet I found myself sitting across from the most impressive building of them all, the United States Capitol, and wondering if these institutions can withstand Trump, and, in turn, Russia. The answer, it seems, is right there in front of us. Russia and Trump want us to hate each other. They want us fighting on Twitter. Spewing vitriol. Telling our neighbors to go fuck themselves. Fighting on Facebook. If that continues to happen, they win, and we allâ€"all!â€"lose. The only way to beat Russia is the only way that America can survive itself.

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By On June 23, 2018

Syrian barrel bomb attack on rebels jeopardises US-Russia deal

Syria Syrian barrel bomb attack on rebels jeopardises US-Russia deal

A major offensive in the area close to Israel could risk drawing Washington further into the conflict

Families flee shelling near Deraa in Syria on Friday.
Families flee shelling near Daraa in Syria on Friday. Photograph: Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters

Syrian army helicopters have dropped barrel bombs on opposition areas of the country’s south-west for the first time in a year, reports said, in defiance of American demands that president Bashar al-Assad halt the assault.

Bully-boy ErdoÄŸan is a threat to Turkey â€" and the world | Simo n Tisdall Read more

Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army this week began ramping up an assault there, threatening a “de-escalation” zone agreed upon by the US and Russia last year.

The US on Thursday reiterated its demand that the zone be respected, warning Assad and his Russian allies of “serious repercussions” of violations. It accused Damascus of initiating air strikes, artillery and rocket attacks.

Syria map

The UN’s secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, on Friday demanded an immediate end to military escalation in south-western Syria, saying he was “concerned at the significant risks these offensives pose to regional security”.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said earlier on Friday that the Syrian military escalation “unambiguously violates” the de-escalation arrangement and that over 11,000 people had already been displaced.

“Russia will ultimately bear responsibility for any further escalations in Syria,” Haley said in a statement.

A major offensive would risk a wider escalation that could draw the US deeper into the war. The south-west is of strategic concern to Israel, which has this year stepped up attacks on Iran-backed militia allied to Assad.

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The barrel bombs targeted a cluster of rebel-held towns including Busra al-Harir north-east of Daraa, where the government attack threatens to bisect a finger of rebel ground jutting northwards into land held by the government.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in Britain, said Syrian government helicopters had dropped more than 12 barrel bombs on the area, causing damage, but no reported deaths.

Abu Bakr al-Hassan, spokesman for the rebel group Jaish al-Thawra, which fi ghts under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said the munitions had been dropped on three towns and villages and that war planes had hit another.

“I believe (the bombardment) is testing two things: the steadfastness of the FSA fighters and the degree of US commitment to the de-escalation agreement in the south,” he told Reuters.

Syrian state television said on Friday that army units had targeted “lairs and movements of terrorists” in the area.

The Syrian government has denied using so-called barrel bombs â€" containers filled with explosive material that are dropped from helicopters and which cannot be accurately aimed. However, UN investigators have extensively documented its use of them during the conflict.

While government forces have made heavy use of artillery and rockets in the assault, they have yet to draw on the kind of air power that was critical to the recovery of other rebel-held areas. Russian warplanes have yet to take pa rt, rebels say.

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, was quoted as saying that Russia was helping Damascus to recover the south.

“The Syrian army now, with support from Russian forces, is recovering its land in the south and restoring the authority of the Syrian state,” he told the pro-Hezbollah newspaper al-Akhbar.

“Israel has no justification to carry out any action that obstructs the fight against terrorism,” he added.

A Syrian rebel commander in the south accused Iran of trying to torpedo the de-escalation agreement and vowed fierce resistance. “We possess many weapons,” said Colonel Nassim Abu Arra, commander of the Youth of Sunna Forces group.

Rebels in the southwest have received support, including arms from Assad’s foreign foes during the seven-year-long war.

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Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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By On June 23, 2018

Russia Is Not This Good â€" Right?

Before the 2018 World Cup kicked off last week at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, much had been written about why Russia was so bad at soccer. A convincing 5-0 opening match win over Saudi Arabia â€" Russia’s first win at the tournament since 2002 also matched its largest margin of victory at a World Cup â€" surely helped to allay some of those criticisms. But there was still no looking past the fact that the host nation ranked 70th in the FIFA world rankings and was looked at by bookmakers as a relative long shot to win the whole thing.

Flash-forward a week, and Russia has already advanced to the knockout round thanks to another convincing win, this time 3-1 over Egypt. Forwards Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba are playing the best soccer of their lives. Russia’s eight goals are the most scored by a host nation through two games since the beginning of the modern World Cup in 1986,1 and before that, only Italy man aged to score as many when it did so in the 1934 World Cup (seven of which came against the United States). The Russians have buttressed all that goal scoring with downright stingy defensive play â€" they haven’t conceded a single shot on goal in open play.2

It’s hard to deny the Russians’ early offensive onslaught or their potency on the defensive side of the ball. But they still face one big question: Are they actually this good?

A huge factor here is quality of opponent: Russia hasn’t exactly played against a top side yet. Egypt was the sixth worst team in the field entering the tournament, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, and Saudi Arabia was the worst. Between them, the Egyptians and the Saudis have put just six shots on target through four games and have managed to score just once.

Russia’s shot conversion rate is also instructive. So far, Russia has had 10 shots on goal, scoring on an astounding eight of them.3 So they’ve b een clinical when they’ve directed shots on target. But they’ve taken just 25 shots in two games (there are 14 teams taking more shots per 90 minutes than the Russians),4 while creating a just above average number of scoring chances per 90 minutes. This all makes it difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Russians remain on this blistering goal-scoring pace. They’ve roundly outperformed their 12th-best expected goals rate of 1.42 per 90 minutes â€" and they’re likely to regress.

Russia also hasn’t possessed much of the ball, retaining it just 44 percent of the time. (Only 10 teams have worse possession percentages.) And when they have possessed the ball, the Russians have been sloppy: They’ve successfully completed just 71 percent of their passes â€" only two teams are worse.

Shots Goals
Team per 90 MIN. ON GOAL per 90 MIN. Shoot% per 90 MIN. Exp. per 90 MIN. Difference
Russia 11.7 4.7 32.0% 3.7 1.4 +2.3
Senegal 7.4 1.8 25.0 1.8 1.1 +0.8
Portugal 8.8 2.3 21.1 1.9 1.1 +0.8
Belgium 13.9 5.6 20.0 2.8 1.5 +1.3
Croatia 12.1 3.3 19.2 2.3 1.5 +0.8
Switzerland 5.4 1.8 16.7 0.9 0.9 +0.0
Tunisia 5.5 0.9 16.7 0.9 0.9 +0.1
Japan 13.0 4.6 14.3 1.9 2.2 -0.3
Spain 14.4 4.2 12.9 1.9 1.8 +0.1
Colombia 7.4 2.8 12.5 0.9 0.8 +0.2
France 11.1 4.2 12.5 1.4 1.4 +0.0
Australia 8.4 2.3 11.1 0.9 1.1 -0.2
England 16.5 6.4 11.1 1.8 2.8 -0.9
Denmark 8.8 3.2 10.5 0.9 0.8 +0.1
Serbia 9.0 2.7 10.0 0.9 0.8 +0.1
Poland 10.1 3.7 9.1 0.9 0.9 +0.1
Mexico 12.3 3.8 7.7 1.0 1.3 -0.3
Uruguay 12.9 3.2 7.1 0.9 1.5 -0.6
Brazil 19.4 7.0 1.4 2.1 -0.8
Nigeria 13.8 2.8 6.7 0.9 0.9 +0.1
Sweden 13.8 3.7 6.7 0.9 1.9 -1.0
Iran 7.3 0.9 6.3 0.5 0.7 -0.3
Iceland 7.8 2.3 5.9 0.5 1.1 -0.6
Egypt 9.8 1.9 4.8 0.5 0.9 -0.4
Argentina 17.2 4.6 2.7 0.5 1.4 -1.0
Costa Rica 5.8 1.4 0.0 0.0 0.5 -0.5
Germany 24.6 8.5 0.0 0.0 1.5 -1.5
Morocco 12.8 3.2 0.0 0.0 0.9 -0.9
Panama 6.5 1.9 0.0 0.0 0.7 -0.7
Peru 12.4 3.7 0.0 0.0 0.9 -0.9
S. Arabia 6.5 0.9 0.0 0.0 0.4 -0.4
S. Korea 4.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 -0.5

Russia still hasn’t played Uruguay, the most difficult opponent in a historically lousy group. Unlike Egypt and Saudi Arabia, La Celeste have been playing positive soccer: Uruguay has managed seven shots on goal, and it (along with Morocco) has taken the fifth most shots among teams that have played two games. Limiting the chances of a Uruguayan side that boasts two of the world’s deadliest hitmen, in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, might prove more difficult than stopping a Saudi side void of a world-class forward and an Egypt ian side reliant on a hobbled Mohamed Salah.

To this point, Russia’s goalie, Igor Akinfeev, has touched the ball in open play just seven times. And he’s had to make only one play on 27 crosses faced. These stats, coupled with the fact that the only shot he’s faced came from the penalty spot, suggest that his defenders have made life very difficult for opposing attackers. That’s the upside.

Monday’s match with Uruguay won’t decide whether Russia gets to play more soccer this summer. It will decide which team Russia faces next â€" very likely either Portugal or Spain. But in some sense, that also doesn’t matter much â€" either opponent would represent a major upgrade in class. Ceding possession to teams with less than positive attacks hasn’t hurt Russia, but don’t expect the same to be true when faced with Suarez and Cavani, Diego Costa or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Check out our latest World Cup predictions.

Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia


By On June 21, 2018

One week into the World Cup and Russia is already running out of beer

2018 FIFA World Cup Group Stage: Brazil 1 - 1 Switzerland

The logistics of hosting a World Cup are absolutely staggering. From stadiums to transportation to media to marketing to simply having enough beds for the hordes of face-painted maniacs who just descended on your country from Machu Picchu to Melbourne, there's a lot to get right and even more to get wrong. So far, Russia, despite a few not-exactly-first-world band-aids (like, you know, erecting stadium seating OUTSIDE of the damn stadium), have done a pretty OK job, but if reports coming out of Moscow today are true, they overlooked one massive detail:


According to Reuters, less than one week into the month-long soccer rager, Russia's beer supply is already, in frat keg parlance, kicked. “We just didn’t think they would only want beer,” said a waiter at a restaurant who ran out of draft lager on Monday and wasn't expecting a new shipment for at least 24 hours. A bartender at Gogol, a trendy Moscow patio bar, said fans had consumed well over 200 gallons of beer in three days...AND THAT'S JUST ONE BAR.

2018 FIFA World Cup: football fans in Samara, Russia

That's also in the biggest city in Russia, where beer is easiest to attain. In Nizhny Novgorod, a former "closed city" about 250 miles east of Moscow, the suds situation is even more dire, with The Local Sweden reporting that the city ran out of beer simply due to Sweden fans celebrating their team's 1-0 victory over South Korea on Monday. Needless to say, if you're looking for a bandwagon to get on, the one tha t just drank an entire city dry in a single afternoon isn't a terrible choice.

Part of the problem can be traced back to the fact Russia simply underestimated how much the rest of the world LOVES beer. Apparently beer sales have plummeted by a third in Russia in recent years following new taxes and restrictions on advertising (and, you know, vodka), so there's a very real possibility they just misjudged this thing a bit. But like true Russians, they are embracing the struggle instead of running from it

“In Russian we say ‘to the bottom!" said another bartender. "I like that these guys are embracing our culture.”

Cheers to that.

Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia